Rupert Murdoch criticized Big Tech’s censorship of diverse views on Wednesday.
In remarks to shareholders of News Corp., which owns the New York Post among other publishers, Murdoch attacked Facebook and Google for censoring conservatives.
“For many years, our company has been leading the global debate about Big Digital. What we have seen in the past few weeks about the practices at Facebook and Google surely reinforces the need for significant reform,” the News Corp. executive chairman said. “There is no doubt that Facebook employees try to silence conservative voices, and a quick Google News search on most contemporary topics often reveals a similar pattern of selectivity — or, to be blunt, censorship.”
The Post was gagged last year when Twitter shut down its account over a story about the business dealings of President Biden’s son, Hunter, and his efforts to monetize his family connections in China.
Robert Thomson, News Corp.’s CEO, said the company opposed “cancel culture designed to silence diverse voices.”
“As Rupert mentioned, there’s obvious censorship, as was experienced at the New York Post, and the more subtle institutionalized censorship in Big Digital,” he said. “It’s a confluence of the institutional, the technological, the social and political, and it is important that we stand firm against that morbific movement to mute.”
Cries to rein in Big Tech’s business practices have come to a boil recently. Last month, a new version of a lawsuit that a group of states led by Texas filed against Google said the Web-search giant controls top brokerages on both the buy side and sell side in the online advertising market, and takes a 22 percent to 42 percent cut of US ad spending that passes through its systems.
The suit also contained details about an alleged plot between Google and Facebook to preserve Google’s dominant position in the online ad space.
Court papers said Google made “an unlawful agreement” to give Facebook “information, speed, and other advantages” in Google-run ad auctions in exchange for the social network backing down from competitive threats against the firm.
Murdoch called the “collusion” between the two companies on ad tech as outlined in the lawsuit “extraordinary.”
“Let us be very clear about the consequences of that digital ad market manipulation: Obviously, publishers have been materially damaged, but companies have also been overcharged for their advertising and consumers have thus paid too much for products,” he said.
Murdoch added that there’s a “fundamental need for algorithmic transparency” by the tech behemoths.
“Algorithms are subjective and they can be manipulated by people to kill competition and damage other people, publishers and businesses,” Murdoch said.
“The idea falsely promoted by the platforms that algorithms are somehow objective and solely scientific is complete nonsense,” he said. “Algorithms are subjective and they can be manipulated by people to kill competition and damage other people, publishers and businesses.”
Murdoch has been a staunch advocate for news publishers getting paid by Google and Facebook for their stories. Earlier this year, Murdoch led the charge, pushing the tech giants to pay News Corp. and other publishers for their stories in Australia, after a new law was passed there.
Outspoken GOP lawmakers like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California recently signaled support for anti-Big Tech measures, as a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to break up Big Tech, giving behemoths like Amazon, Google and Facebook, less of a monopoly over advertising, e-commerce and search.
McCarthy has accused Facebook of “acting like a Democrat Super PAC” and said via Twitter, “A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech.”
“Break them up,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a staunch Trump ally and the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, when the Facebook Oversight Committee announced its decision to ban the former president.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who leads the conservative Republican Study Committee, wrote, “If Facebook is so big it thinks it can silence the leaders you elect, it’s time for conservatives to pursue an antitrust agenda.”