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Google’s AI Search Engine Threatens Media Industry Amid Antitrust Concerns

 |  June 10, 2024

Google’s AI-powered search engine threatens to devastate cash-strapped media outlets, prompting calls for urgent antitrust intervention. Critics argue that Google’s AI Overviews — auto-generated summaries that reduce visibility and traffic to other websites — could significantly drain ad revenue from publishers, reported the New York Post.

The anticipated impact is severe. A study estimates that websites could lose up to 64% of their organic traffic due to AI Overviews. Despite notable errors during its rollout, such as advising users to eat rocks and add glue to pizza, the potential damage to the media landscape remains substantial.

Google has faced accusations of scraping copyrighted news articles without credit or compensation to train its AI. This sparked backlash, leading News Media Alliance CEO Danielle Coffey to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to halt Google’s anticompetitive behavior before the effects become irreversible. The News Media Alliance represents over 2,200 publishers, including the New York Post.

“Government stepping in to identify this as unfair competition, government stepping in to identify this as an illegal use of power, that’s where we could get recourse,” Coffey wrote.

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DOJ antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter recently emphasized the urgency of addressing these issues. In an interview with the Financial Times, Kanter stated that the agency would probe “monopoly choke points and the competitive landscape” related to AI and tech firms’ use of data for training their models. Although Kanter did not specifically mention Google’s AI initiatives, experts believe this was a deliberate choice to avoid appearing biased given the DOJ’s active lawsuits against Google, led by CEO Sundar Pichai.

At a recent AI regulatory workshop, Kanter highlighted the threat AI poses to journalism, art, and other creative sectors. “In the absence of competition, we may see the problems market power on the internet has caused in journalism spread to other critical content creation markets,” he said, stressing the need for proper compensation for creators.

The DOJ is already pursuing multiple lawsuits against Google for alleged anticompetitive practices in its online search and digital ad businesses. In 2023 alone, Google generated $237.86 billion from digital advertisements.

Source: NY Post