Past time to confront the digital duopolists





Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

What to do reduce the corrosive power of the rapacious and unregulated duopoly of Facebook and Google?

One of the worst of their effects is that by gobbling up most of the digital advertising revenue in the United States they are destroying many local news organizations, whose work is essential in providing oversight of public and private institutions. Their demise is a green light for corruption.

David Chavern, CEO of the News Media Alliance, which represents about 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, in a Feb. 26 Wall Street Journal article (“Protect the News From Google and Facebook’’), touted one way to start rectifying this situation: a bill in Congress sponsored by Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline. The measure would reform antitrust laws to let newspapers and other news media collectively withhold their products from the duopolists at Facebook and Google to pressure them to give those smaller media an adequate return on their investment so that they can employ enough journalists to adequately cover the news.

Why oh why are antitrust laws applied to little publications and not to the gigantic Google and Facebook? Those two empires are in restraint of trade just as much as was the Standard Oil Trust at the end of the last century.

I’m mostly talking about local media; the big national ones, such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times, will be okay.