The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has handed down a 37-page brief saying Google and Facebook (as well as some additional digital brands) are Advertising Businesses (not Social Media Enterprises).
This is significant because they then are subject to competition law. This means they are the competition of traditional forms of media advertising but have an advantage. They can use consumers’ personal data.
Is this unfair competition (hence the ACCC)?
As the ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says, “Google is not free, we are paying a price as a society”.
The ACCC has the power to force Google and Facebook to open up on how they operate.
All governments around the world are watching.
I only need to do a comparison of my facebook page with a colleagues to see just how much Facebook uses personal data to target its content.
Yesterday the first news story in my feed was from The Daily Telegraph:
“OMG THE QUEEN HAS ARRIVED! CHER HAS OFFICIALLY TOUCHED DOWN IN SYDNEY”,
whilst my colleague who also follows The Daily Telegraph – a male in his 40’s was served:
“THE TURNBULL GOVERNMENT MOVES TO PROTECT DRIVERS AND THEIR PASSENGERS AT RISK FROM EXPLODING AIRBAGS.”
Which one of us has a richer life … I think I know the answer!
On a serious note … Google and Facebook continue to become more powerful as they use their algorithms, based on our personal data, to serve tailored content.
As consumers turn to these platforms for news (instead of picking up a newspaper) print readership declines and with it the price they can charge for advertising – less money means less journalistic resources and we can see the downward spiral from here.