How the Media Used Russiagate Conspiracy Theories to Create a News Cartel

In the fall of 2019, Facebook announced that it would be writing selected media outlets some very big checks. The launch of Facebook News was billed as a way to give consumers more access to information, but it was actually an attempt at appeasing big media companies.

Facebook, with its older and more conservative user base, had become the epicenter of election conspiracies from the Clinton campaign and its media allies. While Hillary Clinton and her associates were eager to shift the blame for her defeat by relaunching their existing Russiagate smears with false claims that Russian Facebook ads had tilted the election to Donald Trump, the media’s obsession with Facebook was even more corruptly self-interested.

About a third of Americans regularly get their news through Facebook. The tech giant’s algorithms had the ability to make or break the news media, and would go on to break the digital media empires of the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and others in the lefty clickbait brigade.

While Hillary wanted someone to blame for her failures, the media wanted leverage over the company that controlled its fate. The invention of a “fake news” or “misinformation” crisis, the term that the media pivoted to once President Trump made “fake news” his own, was used to persuade Big Tech companies to censor conservatives and promote media content.

Facebook News was a walled garden that pushed the content of the major papers behind Russiagate conspiracies and misinformation alarmism while profiting massively from it. The Russiagate Facebook conspiracy theories provided the rationale for censoring conservatives and for rewarding the media outlets spreading them with special promotions and lots of money.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook paid over $20 million to the New York Times and $15 million to the Washington Post in annual fees. Even more valuable than the big checks was Facebook’s ability to push media content to its users. Last year, sources at several publishers were crediting Facebook News with massive traffic surges, but not everyone was equal.

“Many other U.S. news publishers are getting payments from Facebook to have their content featured in its news tab, but they only get a fraction of the sums paid to the Washington Post, the New York Times,” the Wall Street Journal noted.

Facebook and the media had created a cartel in which media sites created paywalls to raise the value of their content and gain better deals with the social media monopoly. Zuckerberg’s company offered its biggest media critics big checks in exchange for exclusive deals. Both sides claimed that they were “fighting misinformation” with what was really a shakedown and a cartel.

Now that the deal between Big Tech and Big Media is set to lapse, there’s panic in the presses.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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