FPJ Edit: The conceit of digital platforms may be their undoing

There can be little doubt that in the on-going battle between the global internet platforms and various sovereign states, ultimately only the latter will emerge the winner. Google, Facebook and a number of other popular social media platforms might have enjoyed a free run, defying territorial and spatial boundaries of nation-states, but it is their very bigness which may have become the cause of their current troubles.

Australia, the European Union and the US, the home of Big Tech, are all now in the process of checking the hitherto untrammelled power of the Silicon Valley behemoths. A bill under consideration of the Australian parliament will tilt the scales in favour of the national media outlets when it comes to negotiating the terms of engagement with the likes of Google and Facebook.

In this case, the search-engine giant was smarter. Seeing the public mood, it entered into a deal to pay for the content from the vast Murdoch media empire. On the other hand, Facebook reacted angrily, blanking out all Australian sites, including the public service ones dealing with coronavirus pandemic, cancer, etc. Soon Mark Zuckerberg’s arrogance recoiled on him, with a majority of Australians relying on Facebook for news joining their MPs, cutting across party lines in seeking to tame the platform.

Even the argument that the digital platforms helped conventional media gain traction, and, in an increasing number of cases, receive a financial boost as well, failed to click. Eventually, the nation-state will enforce its writ, ending the hegemony of the Silicon Valley giants. Their conceit will be their undoing. Conventional media has reason to celebrate.

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