Toronto Star is at it again. It is no longer a media outlet, but a shrill propaganda tool used to frighten the masses into reading them again.
It has become very pathetic.
They remind me of Claude Robichaux from the novel A Confederacy of Dunces — the little old man who thought all the troubles in the world came from “the communists.” He had a one-track brain cell and anyone he didn’t like had to be from that scary group.
The Star’s latest hatchet piece comes with the usual arrogant self-entitlement that seems to be a staple at this newspaper. How dare the Canadian government support Facebook and other Big Tech giants when they are all evil?
Remember, this is the same newspaper that used its pages to actively and openly lobby that same government to give them free money to keep their dysfunctional industry going.
The column is obnoxious on multiple levels, but the highlights of obliviousness are here:
Facebook, Google and others are conducting citizen surveillance far more than the Soviet KGB or East German Stasi ever did during the Communist era.
No, they’re not. The Stasi had relatives spy on their families. They infiltrated homes, with agents marrying their targets and reproducing with them. If you don’t share personal data with Facebook or choose to be a luddite, there is no problem. You cannot compare the two. The Stasi scarred people for life. It is insulting and ludicrous.
They have amassed fortunes selling the treasure trove of your and my data, without our permission and without ever compensating us a penny.
As has everyone else over the decades. Those ballots you fill out to win junk did that long before social media ever did. Murdered Canadian billionaire Barry Sherman hired detectives to go through the garbage of rivals. Besides, Facebook data fetches very little on the Dark Web because your information has been culled from everywhere else — and the fact that personal information is dirt cheap should tell you that your vitals aren’t all that valuable.
They are bleeding mainstream media by stealing news content paid for by someone else and vacuuming up an estimated 75 per cent of digital revenues in Canada that total about $5 billion a year.
Now, this is an epic knee-slapper. Facebook is not bleeding mainstream media. They are not “stealing content.” Journalists cribbed from press releases for decades; so let’s not pretend this is an actual thing. They are not reprinting books online for free. They are providing links to articles that were free to begin with; so the logic of this eludes common sense. Scraping information is also a common practice in journalism — taking information from other outlets and then reporting on it.
Besides, information is gathered. It is not created in a laboratory in some newsroom. Get a grip.
Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and others have allowed their platforms to be hijacked by the likes of Daesh and also western hate-mongers — right-wingers, racists, white supremacists, xenophobes, homophobes, misogynists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes.
Yeah, as if the Toronto Star wasn’t hijacked by extremists who paid PR firms to shill their wars and terrorism over the years. Nice try. This is also the same newspaper that told young women not to use a life-saving vaccine because they said it was potentially fatal — and when medical experts became alarmed and pointed out the errors, the Star insulted them and spun a narrative to discredit them.
Had journalism kept up with the times, none of this would be an actual issue. They lost advertising revenue because they stuck with their outmoded vehicle while social media presented advertisers with something superior. Journalists were gate-keepers, and their power came from playing favourites. Once people had a superior mode of broadcasting without having to deal with the old guard, they ditched them.
Journalism kept up with radio. It kept up with television, but then it got lazy, and when the Internet came along, they thought it was all a passing fad and people would eventually come back to the old way of having no control over their news and voice.
The signs that Google and Facebook were going to change everything were there. I had written about those changes way back in the late 1990s, long before Facebook or Twitter were even a thing, but Google came in 1998, and I could see the possibilities very clearly. I tried pitching stories about how the landscape was going to undergo a revolution, but people in the profession flat-out ignored me.
Now, it’s a little too late to be using propaganda to try to get your old power back. That ship has sailed, and you have a vested interest in smearing Big Tech. You are not a disinterested or objective party.
You are loser of a contest that you thought you’d win by default. You lost. You deserved to lose. You earned your defeat and richly so.
But as I have said before, the Fourth Medium is a transitory one, and there will be a fifth one to supplant it, but we aren’t going backwards in time because the old way of journalism proved deficient.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot replace journalism with a superior model…