Critics of Big Tech have repeatedly accused online giants of abusing and dominating smaller news outlets, conservative voices, and any site or app that might be seen as competition.
Now one local West Virginia newspaper is facing down a couple of tech Goliaths and taking them to court.
The Pulitzer-Prize winning Charleston Gazette-Mail filed a lawsuit claiming Big Tech companies Facebook and Google are working together to manipulate the digital advertising market, Fox News reported Thursday.
The owner of the Gazette-Mail, Doug Reynolds, told Fox News that his paper’s lawsuit alleges that the two companies “conspire to monopolize and dominate the digital media space.”
Asked what’s hurting papers like his, Reynolds answered, “The newspaper industry over the last 10 years has been making this transfer to digital media, and what we found is, as we’ve gone into this world, that Google and Facebook make the rules of the game, they control the whole environment. They compete against us for advertising dollars, and then they get to keep score in the end.”
He noted that the U.S. has seen more than 200 newspapers close, which threatens local journalism. In order for small news outlets to survive, they have to be able to finance themselves in the digital sphere, but “in the current arrangement, that’s not going to be possible.”
Reynolds wants an open and even playing field so outlets can find ways to be paid for without interference from Big Tech companies.
Asked about nonprofits financed by businesses like Google and Facebook designed to prop up local newspapers, Reynolds was skeptical.
“We can’t have a system where businesses and our journalism is [sic] dependent on us writing good things about Google and Facebook,” he said.
“It has to be independent,” Reynolds continued. “It can’t be just on their good will whether we survive or not.”
Fox News said it reached out to Google and Facebook for comment. Facebook did not respond, while Google said it is not commenting on this case.