Facebook announces changes to sharing and viewing news in Australia
In response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, which will enforce Facebook to pay news publishers for displaying their content, Facebook has announced it will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.
William Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand says the proposed law "fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. 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."
"This discussion has focused on US technology companies and how they benefit from news content on their services. 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."
Easton says Facebook has made clear to the Australian government, 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. Journalism is important to a democratic society, which is why we build dedicated, free tools to support news organisations around the world in innovating their content for online audiences," he states.
"Over the last three years we’ve worked with the Australian Government to find a solution that recognizes the realities of how our services work. We’ve long worked toward rules that would encourage innovation and collaboration between digital platforms and news organisations. Unfortunately this legislation does not do that. Instead it seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for."
According to Facebook, people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook.
"Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted. To do this, we are using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and we will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed," Easton explains.
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
Facebook 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 Facebook's 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 Facebook's international community this means:
They cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news Pages
Facebook states the changes affecting news content will not otherwise change Facebook’s products and services in Australia.
Read the full statement here.