In its submission to the select committee inquiry into “fake news”, The Guardian has warned that digital advertising market dominance by the likes of Facebook and Google “threatens to undermine investment in high quality journalism”.
The newspaper also said it believed “fake news” to be a “symptom of a bigger phenomenon associated with the rapid maturation of a system of networked global digital platforms which offer a scale of instant viral interconnectivity unparalleled in the history of communication”.
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The inquiry, run by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, closed to submissions in March and is expected to publish evidence later this month. It is understood to have received around 100 pieces of evidence with a report set to be published in September.
In its written submission, Guardian Media Group said Facebook and Google played a “pivotal role” at the “heart of the news ecosystem” and that this “poses a number of challenges for news organisations”.
“First, the primary objective of search and social platforms is not to exposure users to a wide variety of high quality news, but to retain users in order to serve advertising,” it said.
“Successive changes to platform algorithms have tended to favour viral content shared by friends and family, rather than high quality journalism.
“Second, the distribution of news within aggregated environments disintermediates journalism from the source website of that content, undermining the connection between users and trusted news brands.”
The Guardian also claimed the inquiry was taking place “within an evidential vacuum” because data about the impact digital technology has on media consumption in society belonged to the individual platforms, and so is not in the public domain.
Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett