In response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook announced their decision to restrict users and news organisations from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content both here in Australia and globally.
We decided to take a look at what this could potentially mean for news outlets and businesses over the coming months.
What are the changes and their implications?
The changes brought in on 18th February 2021 mean that publishers are unable to share their content on Facebook entities and consumers are unable to post or share Australian news both locally and overseas.
How it affects businesses/consumers?
The changes will not only affect the big national publishers, but smaller entrepreneurial publishers relying on their platforms to raise awareness of their content.
This could impact on the authenticity of the “news” shared as only individual opinions and news from small, unregistered sources will be able to be shared freely. Without the regulation Australian news providers adhere to, there is the risk that the sharing of misinformation could become prevalent on the platform…Trump 2016 all over again?
Whilst larger corporations will see damage to their ad dollars, smaller publishers could be forced into closing, due to the lack of viewers and affiliate marketing revenue.
Why it’s happening
The tension between Facebook and the Australian government and their new regulations will force Facebook to share revenue with news sources. According to a press release by Facebook, their gains are minimal and they are dismayed to have come to the decision.
“Over the last three years, we’ve worked with the Australian government to find a solution that recognises the realities of how our services work. We’ve long supported open, fair rules that would encourage innovation and collaboration between digital platforms and news organisations. Unfortunately, this law does not do that. Instead, it seeks to penalise Facebook for content that’s voluntarily shared on our service by news organisations, and sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives the free service gets paid.
Others have also raised concerns, independent experts and analysts around the world have consistently outlined core concerns with the proposed legislation. While the government has made some changes, the law fundamentally fails to understand how our services work”
The main reason they have come to the decision is that with the new legislation, Australia asked Facebook to pay for every link publishers share to which their response that paying for links threatens the purpose of free and open web.
Who will benefit
At this point, no one is benefiting from the changes and Treasurer Frydenberg is having constructive discussions with FB’s CEO Zuckenberg (Twitter, 7:54 AM 18th January) to see if they can come to a mutual agreement.
Communications minister Fletcher attacked Facebook’s credibility of information, now that reliable sources of news have been removed (however, fact-checking and COVID info will remain available to Australians)
However, seeing as competitor Google came to a mutual understanding with the big media players in Australia, the results of the conversations with the Australian Federal Government will be one to keep a close eye on.