Facebook has made a major move in the back and forth with the Australian Government on the proposed Media Bargaining Law. It’s also a potentially dire step by the social media giant for the many Australian publishers that use the platform.
Today, a large number of Facebook users across Australia woke up to find that they are unable to both see and share news on the platform. The new restrictions applied by Facebook means that not only are individuals barred from sharing posts from news outlets, but that publishers – such as Dynamic Business and media giants such as The Guardian – are not able to share articles to readers via Facebook Pages.
This also affects international publishers, who are still able to share news, but are no longer able to get any Australian users to see it.
Facebook Australia & New Zealand’s Managing Director William Easton said the decision was in direct response to the Australian Government’s proposed law, which would require social networking platforms such as Facebook and search engines such as Google to pay news companies for the right to feature and use content.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Easton said in a Facebook blog post.
“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”
Easton said that while companies and services such as Google Search were “inextricably intertwined” with news publishers not providing content “voluntarily”, Facebook had publishers “willingly” posting news and thus growing audiences and advertising revenue as a result. The Facebook and publisher value exchange, Easton said, has long gone in favour of publishers.
Facebook said the proposed code sets up a precedent that it simply cannont agree with.
“This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid,” Easton said.
“We will now prioritise investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences.”
- Publishers in Australia can no longer share or post content to Facebook Pages
- International publishers can share content on Facebook, but no one in Australia can view or share it
- The wider community in Australia and internationally will no longer be able to view or share content from Australian news pages
The conversation continues
Australian Federal Treasure Josh Frydenberg said that he spoke to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this morning, tweeting that they had a “constructive discussion” following the game-changing announcement.
“He raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward,” Frydenberg posted.
“We want them [Facebook] to remain in Australia but we want them to pay for original content,” Frydenberg told media this morning, while keeping tight-lipped on the details of his conversation with Zuckerberg.
“I spoke with Mr Zuckerberg; it was a very cordial discussion. it was a very constructive discussion.
“[Zuckerberg] recognises the importance of the Australian market and Facebook’s presence here.”
Talking to 2GB, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said that Facebook’s actions would not stand in the way of the Government’s reform plans.
“It’s certainly something that raises concern… the government will consider it very carefully,” Mr Fletcher said, while reiterating that the Government will be “maintaining the path that we’ve been following”.