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Facebook Oppose ACCC Algorithm Review

Facebook Australia has slammed the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s (ACCC) proposal to appoint an independent body tasked with reviewing online media platform algorithms.

In a published post by Facebook VP of APAC Policy, Simon Milner, the social media giant claims there’s little evidence why an algorithm regulator is necessary.

Facebook-rival, News Corp, has offered its support of the proposal.

“The ACCC has not made a case or provided any evidence for why they believe an algorithm regulator is a necessary, effective and proportionate response to the business model challenges facing news media. More importantly, people, not regulators, should decide what they see in their news feeds,” claims Milner.

The panel is set to address concerns about digital platform transparency, remedying the ‘power imbalance’ between news publishers and online giants.

Tasks will include “monitoring, investigating and reporting on the criteria, commercial arrangements or other factors used by relevant digital platforms (identified according to objective criteria reflective of influence and size) to impact …the ranking and display of news and journalistic content with the aim of identifying the effects of algorithms or other policies on the production of news and journalistic content”.

It follows the ACCC’s investigation into digital tech giants (Digital Platforms Inquiry) and recently published preliminary report.

Its final report is scheduled for release in June, and follows ACCC Chairman Rod Sims’ request for the advertising industry to lift its involvement with the inquiry.

Mr Milner has urged the ACCC to acknowledge the disrupting nature of technology, however, agrees increased transparency about algorithm operations is important.

“Technology has impacted consumer behaviour in very dramatic ways, but turning the clock back won’t be good either for news consumers or for the thriving online services industry that Australia has built.”

“We agree, however, that greater transparency about the operation of algorithms in both the public and private sector is important, and we will make more announcements in 2019 about our efforts in this space”

“However, we do not believe that greater algorithmic transparency will solve the problem of how to support sustainable journalism in Australia or in other countries, nor will it make it easier for news organisations or individual journalists to monetise their content.”

Facebook asserts it’s engaged in discussions with several countries about the prospect of new regulation addressing news provisions, privacy, safety and copyright.

Milner affirms stronger cross-industry public and private sector collaboration – including those working with local publishers – is a “more sustainable” commercial option.

“We support regulation that is effective, evidence-based, protects consumer interests and is pro-innovation for Australian businesses…”

Read the full blog post on Facebook’s website here.

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