If you pay attention to the structural model of how journalists (particularly in the US) tell their stories, it is always Us versus Them, which is borderline propaganda in the best of times. In the worst, it is Patriarchal propaganda where everyone is conditioned to see opposing views as antagonistic slurs to be "defeated."
The notion that not everyone's life requirements are alike escapes them.
Of course, the "bad guys" are the Them, and journalists paint themselves as heroes that save the world from itself.
This article is a classic example of narcissistic propaganda in the patriarchal style:
How ProPublica Became Big Tech’s Scariest Watchdog
This is pure hyperbole. How many times have we read headlines like this before?
Like Clinton was Trump's biggest nightmare in 2016?
Yes, and the n00b laughed all the way to the White House.
You would think journalists would have somehow been humbled by reality, reassessed their self-aggrandizing tendencies (and, when you are writing about journalism as a journalist, you are skirting a very fine line between reportage and self-promoting advertising, and I know how hard that is considering I was a journalist who covered journalism), and decided that perhaps that whole Great Men narrative was the actual problem.
No such luck.
There are no hard questions or skepticism on one side of the equation, which is always the hallmark of a Patriarchal Us versus Them yarn. Often the lines are clear, such as when someone is a serial killer or mass murderer and there is no excuse or reason to harm others.
But when you are dealing with two groups of collectives, you have to be realistic. There is paranoia and fear-mongering throughout the piece, with the premise that one collective is moral and the other isn't, and somehow, we have never had anyone deliberately manipulate the public before (and for all the Red Scare Version 2.0, the assumption that they had any influence on the American public is hogwash. People on the left didn't vote for Trump, and Trump would have gotten the same votes because people on the right would have voted for him, anyway because Clinton was repulsive to them. Besides Clinton won the popular vote. The Russian narrative has always been a face-saving red herring to the left who equate their defeat with being villains as their own narratives have always implied the only villains lose at the end. That is not only inaccurate and childish, but one election is not an "end": it is a perpetual beginning).
In other words, this is a classic case of puffing. Propublica neither has the means, resources, nor the power to take on social media giants, who have more than just algorithms: they have money, clout, personal information on billions of people, and they have cards to play. Propublica has none.
All any of these companies have to do is snap up Propublica directly or indirectly. They can hire a PR firm to counter something...or they can ignore it completely. Their fortunes will not change.
The only reason social media is not having the best time of it is that there is frustrations, but Russia and fake news have nothing to do with it. We had fake news for decades as I have written all about it in 2005, but no one cared back then.
Call it growing pains. People thought the Internet was a direct and painless path to the Promised Land, where they'd be famous, convince the entire world to think what they think, become prosperous, and magically find the answer to all of their problems with a point and a click.
When people on the Left couldn't convince millions of people on the Right to vote for Clinton, or just not vote at all, that's when social media became a target. The rig that were convinced they had in the bag wasn't there.
If the bored Russians were trolling, and Trump lost, no one would have cared.
But when journalists, who were always used to talking at the public, making lofty decrees about their brilliance and bravery, couldn't sway people, they knew they were finished.
Now it is grasping at straws time.
This article reads like an advertorial from a local magalog. If you are using ProPublica as your best example, you've just proved how useless the profession has become.
No one in Silicon Valley is losing sleep over ProPublica. Once upon a time Gawker was pure obnoxious and swaggering snark that honestly thought it had a modicum of power, until they ticked off someone in that Valley.
And got crushed out of existence.
Arrogance was always a staple of the journalist diet. It's the reason their self-adoring bombast was always out of control, and why it still blinds them to the reality they now face.
Their fortunes collapsed, but not their conceit.
And they still believe they can snatch back their power in a world that has already written them off.