Like many of their policies about campaigns and elections, this is another arbitrary decision by Big Tech with little evidence to support its efficacy. Unfortunately, there’s nothing anyone can do in the short-term because there isn’t enough competition in the online advertising market to take on the Facebook-Google duopoly.
This episode highlights the importance of a campaign, political party, or issue group owning an audience of supporters, through email, text messaging, or website. When you control the content and the distribution, a third party cannot interfere.
Despite the innovative technology involved, this is hardly a new idea. During our nation’s earliest days, newspapers relied on the support of political parties to fund their operations and gave their benefactors endorsements and favorable coverage. By 1860, 80% of the American press was partisan. Only with the rise of new sources of advertising revenue were newspapers able to adopt their neutral approach.
As their share of advertising revenue has plummeted with the advent of more choices, legacy media outlets are struggling to find sustainable business models for delivering news in the 21st Century. One obvious path forward is a return to the past: partisan or ideological patronage of media. On the Right, opinion and personality-driven outlets, like Daily Wire, are leading the charge. Meanwhile, the Left, through efforts like the Courier Newsroom, are more subtle in their approach to partisan-backed news gathering.
Big tech platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube, now play an equally important role as the primary distribution channels for news online. In an earlier age, the publisher of the newspaper would also be its printer or the radio producer would be the owner of the broadcasting antenna.