Facebook is to “invest” $300 million in local journalism. There are a number of possible ways of looking at this. One might be to applaud a rich corporation’s investment in such necessary infrastructure of a good society. Another might be - and rather closer to our own opinion - that this is the feasance that is being extracted by the current establishment. There’s lots of economic activity there after all, so why shouldn’t they have some of it?
Facebook is investing $300m (£233m) in local journalism projects amid mounting criticism over fake news on its platform and its role in the demise of regional newspapers.
The company said it would be investing in local reporters and newsrooms as well as helping media organisations to create sustainable business models.
It said the three-year project would be part of its efforts to "fight fake news, misinformation, and low quality news on Facebook", and said there was an "opportunity and a responsibility, to help local news organisations grow and thrive".
News of the investment comes just days after Facebook unveiled a new fact-checking service in the UK to deal with disinformation on its site, as it struggles to cope with the onslaught of accounts posting such content. The announcement is among the first initiatives since Sir Nick Clegg, Britain's former deputy prime minister, joined Facebook as head of global affairs and communications tasked with repairing the company's reputation.
One could imagine - and of course this is just an imagining - that political process looking at the irruption onto the stage of this new technology, social media, and there being a certain amount of muttering of nice business you’ve got there, shame if something happened to it. And thus a rent is extracted from that activity to be spent upon what that political process thinks should be spent upon.
The actual merit of the activity is an irrelevance here. Politics is, after all, the scramble to be able to command the resources and efforts of others without consideration of that pesky merit.
Yes, of course, this is all much too cynical. Couldn’t possibly be true that a company threatened with regulation by all sides hires an ex-politician to devise the pay off. Just unthinkable, the very idea. Such a pity that there are some so debased as to think ill of all concerned here.