Hello Digital looks at the highlights from the week that was.

The year is already flying by and as we come to the end of week 10, it’s clear that things won’t slow down any time soon. This week we look at the evolving shape of the news media bargaining code in the U.S., updates to Google Maps that make it more interactive for users, and what the future might look like with 8 billion people on the internet. 

Read on for the latest in digital news… 

Facebook & Google may have to negotiate payment for US news publishers

Along with the evolving situation in Australia and Europe about news media bargaining codes, it looks like the same outcome might be unfolding in the U.S. With their proposed bipartisan bill, Google, Facebook, and other big tech companies may have to negotiate deals with U.S. news publishers to pay them for their content.

It has growing support on both sides, with the bill led by Democrats but sponsored by two Republican senators. If passed, the bill will introduce legislation that’s going to make it easier for news publishers to enter into collective negotiations with tech companies like Google and Facebook.

Whether the U.S. will see similar reactions from these companies like Australia did from Facebook in February is unknown. It would be quite a big move for Facebook in the United States, given the user base of around 190 million. 

The bill would mean that print, broadcast, and digital news organisations will be able to work together over a four-year period to come to favourable deals with tech companies. On top of this, during that period the companies would not be subject to antitrust laws.

The intended aim of the bill is to help the news publishing industry as a whole, rather than a small number of large publishers. If a particular deal is one news organisation it will apply to all news organisations. So in other words, it has the potential to boost all publishers revenues. Whether that is the actual outcome of the proposed bill will have to be seen. 

Search Engine Journal goes into detail about how this will look for U.S. news publishers, and highlights how it is unlike similar legislation that was recently proposed in Australia. Take a look here for more information


You can now draw a missing road straight onto Google Maps

Have you ever had issues with Google Maps not recognising a road? It’s a common enough issue that Google have now offered an updated solution for. In Maps, you can now report new and missing roads on desktop by drawing them directly onto the map. 

Previously you could only drop a pin, type a road name and write a note about the missing road. Leaving details like exactly which way the road went, how long it was, and the nature of its curve were all up to your ability to or patience for rendering them in prose. 

To be able to edit a map, you simply navigate to Google Maps on your desktop, click on the hamburger menu next to the search bar, click “Edit the map” and then select “Missing road”.

To help control people taking artistic liberty on the feature, Google will vet user submissions before they are published onto the live map. The update will roll out to over 80 countries over the next few months. 

Along with this update, Google has announced a new feature to Google My Business. Users are now able to upload photos without writing about their experience or giving a star rating. You can simply upload a photo and let others draw their own conclusions.


What will the future of the internet look like with 8 billion users?

The internet is a vast, ever-increasing space. In 2011, there were 2 billion internet users. Now in 2021, we’re on the cusp of 5 billion. It’s been a rapid and rocky rise, with Mashable highlighting the rollercoaster we have seen online: The rise and radicalisation of trolls. Massive harassment campaigns, particularly against women. Big Tech algorithms that rewarded extreme content, which in turn helped to elect authoritarian populists.

Even though this isn’t necessarily the fault of these platforms or organisations, it’s a reality we’ve all gotten used to. We are also likely to see 3 billion more internet users in the next decade or so. 

The global population is growing rapidly, with demographers believing it will cross the 8 billion mark around 2023. But internet access is growing faster, and is on course to hit 8 billion users around 2033. What will the internet look like with 8 billion users? It’s an interesting thought, and one that many people are starting to hypothesise. 

Mashable’s deep-dive into what we should expect with 8 billion internet users is a great analysis of what things we can expect to stay and what will change as we move towards a larger but perhaps more egalitarian digital landscape. Although quite cynical, the article is an interesting read.