By Tim Hjersted
Dec 11, 2007
It's our hope that this website can provide another independent, non-commercial space for people to get news and information as this new democratic, public-interest driven media continues to build momentum. On the subject below is a great article from COA News founder Steve Anderson:Media power takes on new dimensions as we move into an “always on” digital mediascape.
At this pivotal moment we should question whether the needs of citizens in a democratic society are being overshadowed by the drive for new media profits.
One recent study showed that only 20 domains (websites) capture 39% of all the time spent online by US users. Considering that the Internet is technically an open medium, this is an amazingly high level of user concentration. MySpace.com, which is owned by News Corporation, commands an astounding 11.9% of US users’ time online. Bearing in mind the USA has well over two hundred million Internet users, this kind of concentration of online website usage creates huge vectors of power.
Chief among the online brands are the ever-popular social networking websites.
In the period between September 2006 to February 2007 the number of visitors to the social networking website Facebook.com jumped 75% to 24.8 million users worldwide and the number of visitors to MySpace.com grew 26% to 98.5 million. More than half of all Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 use some online social networking sites.
Many of the most powerful online media websites are owned by some of the largest media corporations in the world. Fox Interactive Media (News Corp) spent $580 million to acquire MySpace.com. Google, a large and more powerful media corporation, owns one of the most popular blog platforms: BlogSpot.com. Google also purchased Youtube, the most popular online video site on the Internet, for $1.65 billion. Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL Time Warner own other popular platforms. Google’s chief executive officer Eric Schmidt recently estimated that Google purchases start-up web companies every few days, and is quoted saying, “I think the pace [of Google buyouts] will accelerate”.
This level of power over the Internet, the most powerful medium the world has ever seen, begs the question: how are major web owners using these online properties? New commercial incursions by big online media enterprises including the widely disdained “Facebook Beacon”, make explicit what new media giants have been doing quietly for some time: searching for new and more effective ways to sell our attention, our clicks, and our private information to advertisers and marketers. The Facebook Beacon system monitored Facebook users activities on partnering websites and notified the users’ friends about purchases made. It’s not surprising that this both ruined a few Christmas surprises and outraged many when they realized the level of surveillance they were exposed to. Although Facebook recently bowed to public pressure and made this referral system only apply to those who opt in, it was also recently revealed that the beacon continues to monitor Facebook users activities on the web even if they are logged out of Facebook, regardless of if they opt in to the beacon service.Read the rest of the article here.