While Facebook and Google have become essential in easing our daily lives, the monopoly and influence that they hold can be dangerous. For example, the way in which these companies harm local communities is massive. From spreading disinformation to controlling money for advertisements, their affect over local communities does not go unnoticed.
Pat Garofalo observes the impact Google has on communities based on its business model. Google makes money through its advertisements. They have motive to keep users within the platform. Ideally when conducting a Google search, a user would be sent directly to a helpful website. That tends not to be the case with Google. Instead of going to a more useful site, Google will keep its users around as long as they can. This deflects local companies from advertisement money. For example, users will look at the Google overview of a business rather than clicking the company website.
Furthermore, Garofalo goes on to explain disinformation affecting local communities. Since Facebook and Google monopolize local ad markets, this means they control the money typically allocated for local news. Funding for the few local news outlets becomes less robust, making citizens turn to the internet for their news. Henceforth, Facebook groups emerge.
Founded by people who peddle out conspiracies and misinformation, these Facebook groups miseducate members. In most cases, bias and emotion lead the discussion over facts and evidence. These pages can influence how people understand an issue or perceive a candidate. They can go as far as affecting results of local, even national, elections. As a general election approaches in the US, these groups can contribute to serious harm.
How do these issues resolve? Sure, CEOs and top executives of these companies donate money to help mend election infrastructure. However, anything other than changing the business models as a whole is a temporary solution. Breaking up these companies and creating more competition is crucial. Demanding change at a structural level needs to happen, otherwise this wound is covered by a Band-Aid that will never heal.
What do you think about the harmful ways Facebook and Google have on your local community? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.