John Wihbey Featured in News@Northeastern: Can Social Media and Journalism Form a Global Partnership?
by Ian Thomsen, News@Northeastern
Social media companies bring large audiences to stories reported by the news media, and turn profits from selling ads around those stories. Are these platforms offering a constructive future for the news media? Or are Google, Facebook, and other online giants causing damage to traditional journalism?
The issue is playing out in Australia, where a proposed law—the News Media Bargaining Code—demands that social media companies negotiate payments for the news they use.
The standoff with Facebook is the latest—and possibly the most meaningful—phase of a platforms-vs.-publishers conflict that is now in its second decade, says John Wihbey, an assistant professor of journalism and media innovation at Northeastern.
“For the most part, the platforms have been winning that debate, but the pendulum may be starting to shift,” says Wihbey, who has served as an adviser to Twitter and is co-leading a project on social media content moderation through Northeastern’s Ethics Institute that has support from Facebook. “Facebook sees this as a potential domino effect—if Australia succeeds in enforcing this bill, it’s very likely that 180 other countries will try to do the same. It’s a lot of money on the line.”