Telecommunications

Facebook bans all Australian news media sharing

Facebook bans all Australian n...
Facebook has switched off Australian users' ability to share Australian and international news, and international users' ability to share Australian news, in response to proposed media bargaining legislation
Facebook has switched off Australian users' ability to share Australian and international news, and international users' ability to share Australian news, in response to proposed media bargaining legislation
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Facebook has switched off Australian users' ability to share Australian and international news, and international users' ability to share Australian news, in response to proposed media bargaining legislation
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Facebook has switched off Australian users' ability to share Australian and international news, and international users' ability to share Australian news, in response to proposed media bargaining legislation

Facebook has responded to proposed Australian media bargaining legislation with blanket bans on Australian content that are now rolling out across its social media platform. Currently, Covid and bushfire information sites are among the blocked content.

Australian Facebook users are finding themselves unable to share any news content, from Australian or international sites, and Facebook says international users will be unable to share any content from Australian sites once the rollout is complete.

The move is in response to the Australian government's News Media Bargaining Code, which targeted Facebook and Google specifically as platforms that benefit from content produced by Australian media sites but don't pay for it. The code seeks to "address the bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook."

Google, for its part, has signed a "significant" deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, as well as reported US$30 million dollar deals with Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media – three of the main companies that pushed the Australian government to develop this legislation.

Facebook believes its circumstances are different. In a press release that went live with the blocks, the platform stated "We understand many will ask why the platforms may respond differently. The answer is because our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with news. Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content. On the other hand, publishers willingly choose to post news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences and increase advertising revenue.

"In fact, and as we have made clear to the Australian government for many months, the value exchange between Facebook and publishers runs in favor of the publishers — which is the reverse of what the legislation would require the arbitrator to assume. Last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million. For Facebook, the business gain from news is minimal. News makes up less than 4% of the content people see in their News Feed."

Either way, the content blocks have started coming down, and there has already been significant collateral damage from whatever algorithm the Facebook team deployed. At the time of writing, the Bureau of Meteorology weather service is blocked, with bushfire season imminent. State health and coronavirus information pages have been blocked, as well as some other government services. Comedy and satire sites have been blocked. Retail sites have been blocked. Facebook says it "will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed," but it's unclear what the appeal process will look like.

Either way, the fallout will be severe for Australian media companies that rely on Facebook sharing for much of their traffic.

Source: Facebook

12 comments
Kiffit
It seems to me Loz that you are rather leaving us with the impression that Facebook has been hard done by. You have given us the FB line, but made no attempt to critically evaluate whether it is true or not.

I very much suspect that at best it is little more than corporate rationalization of their overwhelming market power....which they do not seem to mind flexing in the crudest possible and arbitrary fashion. The overreach is palpably obvious to the extent that they have taken out everything of any news value at all, including emergency services for Chrissake.
CAVUMark
Google and Facebook make money on content they do not produce. I think more countries should follow Australia's lead. No different than infringing upon copyrights.
Spud Murphy
Who cares, it's facebook after all, it's not like sensible people get their news from there anyway.
Haneyous
I really hope that this results in a major shift in how people see Facebook and the other social media giants: these companies are acting in authoritarian ways and killing free speech. Facebook's position that "For Facebook, the business gain from news is minimal" is ridiculous considering Facebook's business actually is harvesting data from users--whether users are visiting news sites or not.
Wavmakr
I hope the ultimate consequences for facebook that manifest themselves from this are severe.....
guzmanchinky
Spud nailed it. The "news" people share on Facebook is nothing more than opinionated gossip in most cases. For real news go to NPR or Reuters.
akarp
You mean our governments need to actually govern and provide public services? And not rely on private corporations with capitalist values? Shocker...

As noted by others, FB response is is utter BS, "the business gain from news is minimal"...lol. But again this is predictable and why we have governments and regulations...or at least we used to have regulations before we let special interested groups convince regulators that a 'digital publishing company' somehow should not be regulated like a 'publishing company'...because the "inter-webs are like tubes"...
akarp
@guzmanchinky: yes, it would be great if more people did this... AP as well.
FB36
FB News Feed keep showing people "kind of (custom/personalized) news they like" probably a lot to do w/ endless protests in France & Hong Kong & USA & elsewhere (by keep increasing political/social/religious polarization)!
Maybe all countries better ask FB to stop their News Feed too?
& maybe no social media companies allowed to serve news?
buzzclick
I can only take FB in doses every week or two. A lot of the content is fluff and silly. Anyone who relies on the platform for news is a gullible peon. It has way too much power of influence, and more countries should take the initiative of the Ozzies.