Liberal Critics of “Big Tech” Apparently Spent Big on Facebook Advertising

The Liberals are seemingly no fan of “Big Tech”, but apparently are huge fan of throwing money at Facebook for advertising.

Steven Guilbeault has a long history of criticizing “big tech”. Whether it is calling for “levelling the playing field” while calling for a link tax (and saying a link tax is “immoral“) or suggesting that large tech giants do not contribute enough to Canadian arts and culture, Guilbeault has never been shy about his criticism towards “big tech”. In fact, he is also behind the online harms proposal which could help destabilize the free and open Internet.

Of course, one of those “big tech” companies happens to be Facebook. Often cited as a source of misinformation and one of the companies that do not pay their “fair share”, Facebook has been one of the targets of Guilbeault’s ire. So, if one of the big concerns is that they make too much money, siphoning money from publishers, and that they pay little to no taxes, you’d think that it would be the moral thing to do to not spend money on political ads on Facebook. As it turns out, when it comes to what he could stand to gain, Guilbeault’s campaign wallet is always open.

According to a Facebook transparency page, Guilbeault spent over $17,000 on political advertising in a bid to get himself re-elected. (Hat Tip: Michael Geist).

The transparency report is, of course, fun to poke around on. For instance, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, spent nearly $3 million in advertising. Innovation Minister, Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne, spent over $12,000 in advertising on Facebook. Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, apparently spent nearly $14,000.

What one can take away from this can actually vary. One take away is that these politicians have no problem, on the one hand, saying that Big Tech is too powerful and Canadians are being left out in the lurch. On the other hand, they have no problem forking over wads of cash when an election is on the line. On the side of that, Liberal party members are very much part of the “big tech” system they so often criticize in the first place.

Another angle on this is that companies like Facebook are pretty much unavoidable when it comes to looking for effective advertising avenues. As a result, big politicians couldn’t resist it and caved to the idea of forking out cash to helping themselves get re-elected. In a weird way, it’s confirmation of both the problem and the hypocrisy of the politicians at the same time.

Of course, moving forward, when politician’s like the above start talking about the need to “reign in” “big tech”, their comments will ring a bit more hollow knowing how much they spent on advertising with these companies in a bid to get them re-elected in the first place. While we don’t know to the letter (though we’ve apparently been pretty darn close to that lately) what will happen, we know that the government is seemingly destined to declare war on the open Internet. Digital rights organizations like Open Media know this is coming as well. So, how that plays out in light of what we know now, who really knows? Still, it makes selling this war on the open Internet a bit more difficult at the very least.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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