Rupert Murdoch: Facebook Should Pay for News

Rupert Murdoch attends the TIME 100 Gala - Getty-H 2017
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

The mogul said as much in addressing the social giant's recent decision to allow its users to determine the trustworthiness of a news source through a survey system.

Rupert Murdoch is criticizing Facebook and Google for promoting fake news, and he's asking Facebook to pay for the privilege of using trusted news sources, similar to the way cable companies pay for the TV channels they carry.

In a statement released Monday in his role as News Corp executive chairman, the media mogul addressed Facebook's recent decision to allow its users to determine the trustworthiness of a news source through a survey system.

Facebook drew criticism on Friday when CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in the way that it determines the trustworthiness of the news sources on its platform. Under the new system, Facebook has said that it will survey its users on which news sources they are familiar with and trust most.

“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook. But many observers are concerned that the survey system could be manipulated. News sources with strong online followings could be pushed to the top of such a ranking system, regardless of whether they offer stories that are balanced or fact-checked. That means fake news sources could actually prosper in this new system.

Read Murdoch's entire statement below.

Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable. Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.

There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism. We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.

The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize "trusted" publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.