Facebook Blocks Sharing of News Content in Australia

Sam Kelly

February 17, 2021

Sam Kelly

February 17, 2021

Facebook said that, in response to Australia’s proposed law to force internet platforms to pay for news content, it will no longer let publishers or users in the country share news content on its service.

Facebook’s decision means Australian publishers will not be able to share or post content on Facebook pages, while news content from non-Australian publishers will not be able to be viewed or shared by Australian users. In addition, users outside of Australia will not be able to view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news pages.

In a blog post, William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, drew a distinction between the social giant and Google. “Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content,” he wrote. “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.”

Easton claimed that “the value exchange between Facebook and publishers runs in favour of the publishers,” claiming that in 2020 Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion “free referrals” to Australian publishers — which he said was worth an estimated AU$407 million ($315 million).

This bold move will rattle local publishers and hopefully bring the situation to a head. By turning off the tap on one of their main traffic drivers, we should see the publishing industry rally and push the ACCC to engage in proper consultation and provide a robust solution to this mess.

In principle, the code has the right intentions, however, the design and mechanics are ill-informed, knee-jerk and broad brush in their response.

Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook does not steal news content. Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook. From finding new readers to getting new subscribers and driving revenue, news organisations wouldn’t use Facebook if it didn’t help their bottom lines.

What does this mean for you?

Screen Shot 2021-02-18 at 10.51.21 am

For Australian publishers this means:
  • They are restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages
  • Admins will still be able to access other features from their Facebook Page, including Page insights and Creator Studio   
  • We will continue to provide access to all other standard Facebook services, including data tools and CrowdTangle
For international publishers this means:
  • They can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences
For our Australian community this means: 
  • They cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook or content from Australian and international news Pages 
For our international community this means:
  • They cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news Pages

 

For more information please contact sam@hellosocial.com.au

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