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President and COO of AT&T, a huge tech company, worries about tech companies’ power

President and COO of AT&T, a huge tech company, worries about tech companies’ power


He says Facebook needs to consider editorial integrity

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Advertising Week New York 2016 - Day 3
Photo by John Lamparski / Getty Images for Advertising Week New York

John Stankey, president and COO of AT&T, a mega-corporation forged from multiple big acquisitions, is worried about tech companies’ power. In an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Influencers with Andy Serwer, Stankey said he’s “really concerned about the concentration of economic power” in big tech companies and how they approach their “platforms’ influence on society.”

Stankey’s concern about concentrated economic power is particularly funny given that AT&T now owns Time Warner, which controls HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. It already operated DirecTV. It, too, has a lot of concentrated economic power.

Stankey also took the interview as an opportunity to jab Facebook. He called on the social networking company to exercise “editorial integrity” or make sure news on the platform is legitimate and not fake. “If that’s where people are consuming facts and information ... then you probably need to think about what the editorial integrity of your platform is,” he said.

Facebook has routinely said it doesn’t consider itself to be a media company. “News and media are not the primary things people do on Facebook,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a 2016 Facebook post, “so I find it odd when people insist we call ourselves a news or media company in order to acknowledge its importance.”

Stankey clearly wants Facebook to behave more like a media company, which AT&T now is, but worrying about “economic power” is slightly hypocritical given AT&T’s own dominance in the telecom and media space. The company has often bought its way into markets and industries and is now a massive entity.

With its Time Warner acquisition, AT&T now competes for advertising dollars and people’s attention, meaning it competes with Facebook more than ever.