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Toronto Star leaves front page blank to push for regulation of Google, Facebook

Toronto Star leaves front page blank to push for regulation of Google, Facebook
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The Toronto Star left its front page blank Thursday to call for further regulation of tech giants such as Google and Facebook, saying they have too much control over news content.

“We are posing a simple question: what if the news wasn’t there? Google and Facebook drain most advertising revenue that traditional media relies on,” investigative reporter Kenyon Wallace tweeted Thursday.

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At the bottom of the otherwise blank page, the Star wrote that the companies “use their monopoly power to pocket 80% of online advertising revenues. These corporate giants benefit from the news content produced by Canadian journalists and publishers—without paying for it.”

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In an op-ed for the newspaper Thursday, columnist Navneet Alang wrote that further regulation that preserves freedom of speech is necessary.

“[N]ow that the internet forms the central communication and cultural infrastructure of our lives, the time for a hands-off government approach is over,” he wrote. “From misinformation and conspiracy theories, to hate speech and extremism, to a decimated news industry, the free-market approach for the web has failed — and it’s time for the careful, judicious application of government regulation to both the web and the industries that are central to democracy.”

Alang cited other countries’ approaches to the issue, such as Australia’s revenue-sharing system in which tech companies pay to share news agencies’ content.

“How this happens will be a matter of intense debate — as it should be. But what is clear is that the Wild West, free-rein era of the internet must come to an end,” he added.