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- BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti responded to Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposition of breaking up tech companies like Google and Facebook at SXSW on Friday.
- Peretti acknowledged that there was "a real sense of crisis in Silicon Valley," but implied that the solution wasn’t necessarily to break up platforms, but rather "platforms and media working together."
- "The people at the platforms are good people. They have families. They’re not anti-vaxxers themselves," Peretti said during his keynote presentation at SXSW.
AUSTIN, TEXAS — The rise of tech giants like Facebook and Google has made the big only bigger, shaking up media and marketing with more mega-conglomerates like that of AT&T and Time Warner and Disney with Fox.
But while Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren says that big tech companies like Facebook and Google need to be broken up and regulated, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti differs.
Peretti acknowledged that there was "a real sense of crisis in Silicon Valley" to do with the way consumers access content and maintaining integrity of that content. But he implied that the solution wasn’t necessarily to break up platforms, but rather "platforms and media working together."
"The people at the platforms are good people. They have families. They’re not anti-vaxxers themselves," Peretti said during his keynote presentation at SXSW. "They’re spending billions of dollars trying to moderate the content, but the better solution is to create better models for the good content to thrive."
He made the comments while sharing a broader strategy memo that BuzzFeed released timed with SXSW on Friday, outlining BuzzFeed’s path ahead in the coming year. He said his goal was fix the internet and make it less of a "dumpster fire." Other industry watchers said that breaking up the tech giants would spread digital ad dollars around more evenly.
BuzzFeed was the most recent media company hit by sizeable layoffs in January as many have begun to question the long-term sustainability of media business models that rely on platforms like Facebook for distribution.
But Peretti said that he sees "a clear path to a bright future for BuzzFeed." He argued that publishers are "fixing" the platforms by "[filling] the void…with quality content," with the void referring to "opportunistic bad actors — anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, conspiracy theorists, misogynists, racists, xenophobes, trolls, partisan extremists, scammers, and pedophiles."
Peretti has recently done a bit of an about-face on Facebook. Once a consummate Facebook booster as BuzzFeed scaled the platform to big heights, he’s become critical more recently, calling for the platform to share more revenue with publishers.
Warren, on the other hand, proposed that tech companies should be regulated. "Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy," the senator wrote in a Medium post.
She said that she would require tech giants to be classified as platform utilities, barring them from sharing data with third parties. She also said she would undo mergers like Facebook and Instagram and Google and DoubleClick.
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