Reports that Google may begin to pay for news is a positive step, but more is urgently needed to protect journalism in Australia, including tougher measures to prevent the spread of fake news on digital platforms, according to Responsible Technology Australia.
RTA – an independent organisation that advocates for the ethical progression of technology for a safer, fairer, and more democratic Australia – said it was promising Google had come to the table to pay Australian news outlets, and proof Australia could be a world leader in reforming social media and digital media.
"Australian publishers absolutely should be getting a fairer cut of the news they create that keeps users glued to digital platforms," said RTA's executive director, Chris Cooper.
"The introduction of a mandatory code by ACCC to force these digital giants to pay for news is the first step in taking back control over our public debate.
"People use Facebook and Google to find out what is going on in the world, but increasingly they are being pushed into filter bubbles which are distorting their worldview.
"During this pandemic, for example, Australians have been soaked by Facebook and Google in fake news. This includes conspiracies that coronavirus doesn't exist, that it is a front to allow vaccinations that will digitally track individuals, that 5G is the cause of symptoms.
"The government currently has no idea how much of this content is out there or which part of society it is resonating with because platforms like Facebook and Google's YoutTube aren't transparent about how their algorithms are amplifying misinformation. While they tell us they're cracking down, we have to take this on a 'trust us' basis.
"That's not good enough. When new legislation is released in July it should include measures to force Facebook and Google to share real data about what fake news is going viral on their platforms. Otherwise we face the scary possibility that forcing the tech giants to pay for real news could have the perverse effect of incentivising the amplification of fake news."