The year started with Facebook withdrawing Australians’ access to domestic violence and weather services in order to pressure our elected government to abandon plans to force it to compensate media companies for the journalism that drives its news feed. More recently, a whistleblower exposed how Facebook’s leadership turns a blind eye to evidence that its products sow global division and are particularly damaging to teenage girls.
It was Facebook’s tobacco industry moment. It prompted a corporate rebrand and the launch of Project Amplify, a steady flow of pro-Facebook stories in users’ newsfeeds. A Pravda-like assertion of power by the digital state.
To their credit, governments around the world are trying to tame the digital platforms. Measures increasing online safety and enhancing citizen privacy are currently working their way through our Federal Parliament. But let’s face it: a global private corporation is an untenable custodian of our digital civic space. We need to do better than outsourcing our civic life.
There is an alternative. We could build on the trust and reach of our national broadcaster to wrest back control of our connections, to create a civic platform – as opposed to a social media platform – to make sense of the world, anchor ourselves to facts, mediate our differences.
Read the full article on the Sydney Morning Herald here.