Concerns about how Google and Facebook's dominance unfairly stifles media and content competition have prompted the South African Competition Commission to announce an investigation.
The Publishers Support Services (PSS), established by Arena Holdings, Mail & Guardian, Independent Media, and Media24, filed a scathing submission on February 28, 2022, detailing how Google and Facebook are essentially stealing internet traffic away from publishers' websites thus losing millions in revenue.
Described as "gatekeepers," Google and Facebook's dominance provides them the authority to take news articles from original publishers without having to pay for them. In order to achieve this, they make it more difficult for users to locate the original news piece on their website or on social media. As a result, the publisher who originally wrote the news piece does not receive as much attention to their website and thus does not generate as much revenue from advertisements. Additionally, because consumers now only read the quick news updates on Google or Facebook, they don't click through to read the complete news article on the website of the original publishers.
Joint African probe
The South African Competition Commission is conducting investigations as a result of agreements made by many African countries to work together and conduct joint investigations. Regulators from Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Gambia, Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria and Morocco have set up a working committee to exchange data, insights and best practice techniques to undertake such probes.
The new working group decided to, among other items on its agenda, discuss shared concerns affecting African digital markets. It also includes the Competition Commission of the Common Markets of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which comprises 21 countries. The organization will also promote teamwork in the fight against roadblocks that prevent the development and growth of African digital platforms.
Innovation of the fittest
Adapting Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which states that "Individuals with advantageous traits are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing those traits on to their offspring." Individuals with certain features or characteristics have an edge over others in a given context.
Based on this widely acknowledged scientific school of thought, one can argue why shouldn’t Google and Facebook use their technological traits to help ensure their continued survival and achieve their goals of becoming the most successful technology corporations.
In a free market economy, businesses compete with one another for customers and profits, which causes the more successful ones to grow and prosper while forcing the less successful ones to adjust or go out of business. Isn't the principle of "innovation of the fittest" what motivates technological advancement? The emergence of innovative fintech products like Vodafone's M Pesa and iKhokha's merchant machines has been detrimental to established institutions like banks, who benefited from their monopoly.
Whether you agree with me or not, the technological industry is driven by the principle of "Innovation of the fittest." Do we not run the risk of impeding innovation if we remove that requirement?