Google, Facebook, and Twitter as global gatekeepers for digital news? Evidence and experiences from around the world.

Search engines and social networking sites are important parts of the way in which people get news online. Increasingly, companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter make decisions that influence the flow of information about public affairs, decisions that reflect their business strategies, technological expertise, and assessment of what their users and customers want, but also political factors such as the European Court of Justice “right to be forgotten”, government demands for censorship of sensitive topics, and law enforcement interest in people’s online activities.

But how important are these digital intermediaries as gatekeepers for digital news around the world? How do journalists and news organizations react to them and work with them? And what do ordinary people make of the role of sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter as part of their news habits?

That is the topic of this discussion, which will kick off with a brief presentation on the relative importance of digital intermediaries in different countries with evidence from the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, followed by an open discussion with other festival speakers, also inviting #ijf15 attendees to share their own experience and views of how new global gatekeepers are changing how news circulate.