Rupert Murdoch renewed his attacks on Google and Facebook during News Corp’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, accusing the tech companies of trying to silence conservative voices and calling for “significant reform".
The Silicon Valley companies are favourite targets for Mr Murdoch, 90, who for years has criticised Google for taking the publisher's news articles without compensation and Facebook for failing to adequately reward publishers.
The public flogging continued, despite News Corp winning concessions from both companies, which this year agreed to pay for the publisher’s content in Australia.
“For many years, our company has been leading the global debate about Big Digital,” said Mr Murdoch.
“What we have seen in the past few weeks about the practices at Facebook and Google surely reinforces the need for significant reform.”
Mr Murdoch accused Facebook’s employees of trying to silence conservative voices and noted “a similar pattern of selectivity” in Google’s search results.
But Facebook-owned analytics firm CrowdTangle reported that posts from conservative personalities such as Dan Bongino and Ben Shapiro routinely rank among the most popular on the platform.
Further, the media mogul cited a lawsuit, filed last year by 10 state attorneys general, accusing Google of monopolising the digital advertising market and reportedly working with Facebook to manipulate online auctions where advertisers buy and sell advertisement space.
“Let us be very clear about the consequences of that digital ad market manipulation,” said Mr Murdoch. “Obviously, publishers have been materially damaged, but companies have also been overcharged for their advertising and consumers have thus paid too much for products.”
Mr Murdoch called for algorithmic transparency — echoing debates in Congress following Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen’s disclosures about the social network’s business practices.
“The idea falsely promoted by the platforms that algorithms are somehow objective and solely scientific is complete nonsense,” Mr Murdoch asserted.
“Algorithms are subjective and they can be manipulated by people to kill competition, damage other people, publishers and businesses.”
He also called on former US president Trump, who published an October 27 letter to the editor in The Wall Street Journal repeating the claim that the 2021 presidential election was rigged, to move on in the service of American conservatives.
“The current American political debate is profound, whether about education or welfare or economic opportunity,” Mr Murdoch told shareholders.
“It is crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in that debate, but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past.
“The past is the past, and the country is now in a contest to define the future.”