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Rupert Murdoch reportedly threatened to criticize Facebook over publisher compensation


rupert murdoch
Rupert
Murdoch, executive chairman of News
Corporation

REUTERS/Jason
Reed


  • Rupert Murdoch reportedly confronted Mark Zuckerberg in
    front of a number of executives in 2016, demanding Facebook
    adjust its business model to be a better partner to the
    publishing industry.
  • The conversation seemed to spur some action at
    Facebook, though not enough, and Facebook is expected to make a
    number of updates to its news feed throughout
    2018. 

 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has heard from a lot of frustrated
news organizations and leaders in media about the role Facebook
has played in spreading fake news — and some of the strongest
words reportedly came directly from Robert Murdoch, the media
mogul and founder of News Corp, according to
a Wired report by Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstei
.

Shortly after Facebook’s Vice President of Product Management
Adam Mosseri published Building
a Better News Feed for You
— an explainer about how the
platform would try to prioritize posts from friends and family in
users’ news feeds moving forward — Murdoch and News Corp CEO
Robert Thomson reportedly confronted Zuckerberg at an annual
conference in Sun Valley in a room with others present.

The story detailed the tumultuous two years that Facebook
and Zuckerberg have faced, and described the conversation in
which Murdoch and Thomson explained to Zuckerberg that his
platform’s treatment of digital advertising was threatening good
journalistic work:

According to people familiar with the conversation, the two News
Corp leaders accused Facebook of making dramatic changes to its
core algorithm without adequately consulting its media partners,
wreaking havoc according to Zuckerberg’s whims. If Facebook
didn’t start offering a better deal to the publishing industry,
Thomson and Murdoch conveyed in stark terms, Zuckerberg could
expect News Corp executives to become much more public in their
denunciations and much more open in their lobbying. They had
helped to make things very hard for Google in Europe. And they
could do the same for Facebook in the US.

Zuckerberg apparently took the threat seriously, because he
reportedly came back to Facebook’s offices and handed out orders
to rethink Facebook’s publishing model and hire employees to
handle news partnerships. The task proved to be more complicated
than Zuckerberg expected, however, and the issue wasn’t
immediately sorted out. Facebook did not respond to a request for
comment. 21st Century Fox and News Corp. declined to comment on
the Wired report.

This year, Facebook is expected to make a number of announcements
about updates to the news feed and the amount of control given to
publishers, although it’s unclear just how much Facebook will
give to them. According to Wired, Facebook executives had reason
to believe Murdoch’s people were tied to a
2007 investigation into Facebook’s practices
once before,
which, if true, would highlight how much power the media mogul
has in the industry.

At a dinner with News Corp and Facebook executives, a little over
a year after the Sun Valley conference, Zuckerberg reportedly
made a toast to Murdoch’s accomplishments, sharing an anecdote
about a tennis match that made him aware how unwise it was to
underestimate what Robert Murdoch was capable of. 


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