Digital feudalism

Four large companies monopolize the traffic of news and other content in the social media, deciding what their users should or should not read or see, which amounts to thousands of millions of people.

These big companies, which analyst Emily Bell, from the Digital Journalism Center of Columbia University, has accurately called “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, are Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.

Through an impressive technological armor, these companies have taken over the digital space by designing and managing the diversity of devices and applications that facilitate access to social media, just like the feudal lords of the past controlled the economy, life and everything that moved around their territorial domains.

Supported by their own platforms, against which traditional media just can’t compete, they give green light to the news and other content, properly filtered, aimed to specific audiences, and they extract from that dynamic the profits generated by the advertisements controlled by themselves and the applications or devices that they commercialize.

This means that they have control of the whole world’s information, because the media that generates them, whether they are printed or audiovisual, have to submit to their traffic rules if they want to reach larger audiences.

By means of algorithms or other applications, these “horsemen of the Apocalypse” have the capacity to block the advertisements that the clients have placed on the printed media and in their digital versions, or they take the biggest part of the profit from these. Additionally, they are owners of online advertising companies.

Through this “native advertising”, these companies negotiate directly with the advertisers and place the ads on social media that disseminate the news published by independent media, again, printed or audiovisual, leaving these media at a serious disadvantage.

This is a business model in the style of “take it or leave it”, which could be hardly avoided by the media that needs a lot of traffic and a wide audience to attract its own advertisers, who migrate towards digital platforms with the same aspirations that their ads get seen by more people.

Now, with the crisis of credibility created by fake news or the selective distribution of biased or unverified contents, many people leave the sphere of social media and revalue the sobriety and formality with which traditional newspapers handle their contents, purified and checked to avoid falsehood or manipulation.

Hence this juncture, which seemed to mark the decline or disappearance of traditional media, has allowed the visibility of the importance of a serious and professional journalism, committed to the mission of serving to our society, its democracy, and the rightful and balanced judgment of the citizens with the news that are of their interest, to lead to the right decisions.

– Translated from spanish by Randy Rodriguez.