The Australian government wants to know if the internet giants like Facebook and Google are unfairly damaging the media in the country.
The Australian Competition and Consumption Commission (ACCC) said on Monday it will begin an investigation to examine how new digital platforms are affecting Australian journalism and advertising, and to see if that impact benefits Australians or harms them.
"Through our research, the ACCC will closely examine the impact of digital platforms on the level of choice and quality of news and content produced by Australian journalists," said watch group chairman Rod Sims. "The ACCC enters into this research with an open mind and will study how digital platforms such as Facebook and Google operate to fully understand their influence."
Comes as Facebook, used by 2 billion people a month struggle to combat their problem of false news, that some may have influenced the US presidential election of 2016 ] In September, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook sold ads valued at $ 100,000 to accounts linked to Russia. Later that month, Facebook said that Russian-backed content, which also includes "organic" unpaid publications, was seen by more than 126 million people in the social network.
"While news is only a small part of the content shared in our services, we take our role in the media ecosystem very seriously and invest significantly in products that support publishers," said a Facebook spokesperson. "We look forward to a thorough investigation of the Australian media market."
Google was contacted for comments.
Outside of quality control, the ACCC said the research will also explore how digital platforms are helping or hurting the media business.
"There are growing concerns that digital platforms are affecting the ability of traditional media to finance content development," said Sims, with the ACCC press release pointing to the continuing trend of advertisers to spend more on digital media and less in print media.
The preliminary report of the ACCC will be published in December 2018, followed by a full report in June 2019.
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