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Facebook and Google respond to “disappointed” Lords on online advertising and news

Responses from Facebook and Google to questions from the chair of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee have been published today (6 July).

Lord Gilbert of Panteg said that he was “disappointed” by the social media companies' evidence when representatives appeared before the committee in a virtual session on Tuesday 23 June.

Lord Gilbert wrote to Facebook and Google asking for clear answers to several further questions.

The Committee is conducting an inquiry into the future of journalism and will make recommendations to the Government about the online advertising market and the balance of power between platforms and publishers when it reports later this year.
Questions for Facebook included:

  • How much value do you derive from news on your platforms?
  • Please justify your claim that "we have no sense in which there is an imbalance of power" between Facebook and publishers.
  • Please provide details of your “almost daily meetings” with news publishers.

Questions for Google included:

  • Please justify your claim that Google does not make editorial decisions.
  • If it is true that Google makes "very, very small amounts of money of news-related queries", how is that consistent with your claim that there is no imbalance of power between Google and publishers?
  • Do you accept that being present at multiple points in the advertising value chain gives Google unprecedented and anti-competitive market power?

Facebook and Google's responses.
The Competition and Markets Authority published a report on online platforms and digital advertising on 1 July.

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