Facebook pulled news in Australia. Here’s why that matters everywhere

Facebook pulled news in Australia. Here's why that matters everywhere


Brendan Thorne / Stringer

Imagine waking up on a regular day only to see engineers in Silicon Valley flick a switch while sleeping and Now the news has disappeared from your social media. Older posts with news stories are gone and brand pages are empty for outlets like CNET.

Millions of Australians need not imagine. During the down time at around 6pm on Thursday, Facebook announced that it was pulling news from its platform in the country. cause? A forthcoming law called the News Media Bargaining Code will force it, With googleAustralians look in their Facebook feeds to pay publishers such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for news content.

Due to Facebook’s decision, people and publications in Australia can no longer post news. In fact, users also can not See News stories. Posts from international publishers such as the New York Times do not appear in the Australian feed at all.

The implementation has been chaotic. Facebook has accidentally closed several government pages, including two official health agencies amid an epidemic. Some publications are vacant not only in Australia, but worldwide. Many of my American colleagues cannot see posts on CNET’s Facebook page.

In justifying the move, Facebook criticized Australia’s news media bargaining code. With news of around 4% engagement time on clicks of AU $ 407 million ($ 315 million) from Facebook and Australian publishers last year, the social media giant says the media code is inaccessible. Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director William Easton wrote, “For Facebook, the news business is minimal.” Instead of paying, Facebook is doubling.


Here’s what CNET’s Facebook page looks like in Australia.

Screencap by Daniel Van Boom / CNET

This is the exact opposite route taken by Google, the other tech giants targeted by Australia’s bill. Google threatened to pull out of Australia last month, but cooler chiefs have prevailed. This week, the bill will become law once it becomes clear, Google has made deals with News Corp and Nine EntertainmentThe two largest companies lobbying the Code. Details of the News Corp deal are scarce, but are reported to be worth $ 30 million ($ 23 million) a year under an agreement with Nin.

Its implications will be global. The venue is a dress rehearsal for confrontation between big technology and governments in other countries and other countries. European Parliament Member Told CNET last week He wants similar measures of Australia’s news media bargaining code to be included in the forthcoming legislation of the European Union. A Canadian minister said his government should follow Australia’s example and force big technology to pay publishers. “Canadian officials are watching what is happening in Australia,” said an analyst.

But although the global desire to emphasize big technology is strong, there are reasons to be angry at the Australian precedent. Poor regulation can be worse than no regulation, and crunching Google and Facebook can make media companies worse.

Big Tech vs Big Media

There are two main reasons other countries may follow Australia’s precedent: to promote public-service journalism, or to legislate against big technology only to win political points. The government of Australia, led by the right-wing Liberal Party, has given a squeeze to Facebook and Google. But does it help a struggling media industry? that remains to be seen.

If Australia’s media bill becomes law, which is very likely, Facebook and Google will have 90 days to negotiate with publishers as to how much they should pay for news content. If no agreement is reached, government-appointed arbitrators will decide what the payment is fair. The arbitration element is an important point, with both Google and Facebook reasonably predicting that they would unfairly pay large amounts.

The bill aims to equalize the bargaining power between troubled news publishers and growing tech companies. So far, the result has reached millions from Google, with giants such as News Corp simultaneously depriving Facebook traffic of small, independent outlets.

Unfortunately, this is not too surprising. Back in September a group of 10 small Australian publishers wrote to Australia’s competition watchdog, with the architect of the media code outlining concerns that the new law would harm them. A company like News Corp can negotiate for big bucks and if Facebook or Google pulls out news services, it will still be supported by TV channels, radio stations and newspapers. Independent outlets would benefit less from the law and if news were pulled from Facebook’s feeds or Google searches, there would not be much of a safety net.


Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is one of the biggest beneficiaries of Australia’s news media bargaining code.

Drew Anger / Staff

The CEO of Point in Case, youth, a youth publication, said in a Senate hearing that 75% of the site’s traffic comes from Google and Facebook. Now half of that equation is Facebook. Junk is one of several smaller publications to revoke after Facebook’s exit. In the meantime, Google has Agreed to pay this week Nine Entertainment and Seven West, two media behemoths with multiple newspapers and networks on both TV and radio, exceed AU $ 30 million ($ 23 million) per year.

Google’s deal with News Corp is its latest cut. Curated stories from The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Australian will appear in Google’s news showcase, requiring News Corp to pay a “significant” fee.

It may seem that Australia is a small country, which can charge for public-service journalism against big technology. But given a right-wing government funnel money in News Corp, at least one eyebrows should be raised. Big money agreements are being announced there, but how much money will journalism get and how will the bottom lines be simplified?

never ending Story

After a difficult period of development, tech giants are on the verge of toppling pegs by governments around the world. The European Union is preparing two historic laws, Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, Which would make Facebook and Google responsible for illegal content on their platforms, and target tech companies with stiff anti-competitive measures. Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice Opened a historic no-confidence motion against Google last October.

It is unlikely to end. Misinformation and hate are also often spread through Facebook, something President Biden wants to fix, while both Google and Apple are Accused Of Unfair practice Within their respective mobile app stores.

In other words, regulating and legislating big technology is inevitable. But the details matter and it is possible for governments to climb Silicon Valley with their zeal, making the situation worse.

Australia’s new law may well be abolished. Maybe the AU $ 30 million paid to the nation’s media giants will lead to a significant surge of journalists. Maybe Facebook will make a deal to return the news to Australia and the independent outlet will be better than before.

But it has not happened yet. So far, small publishers have had the worst of both worlds: Google is paying heavy licensing fees to industry giants, while Facebook’s axing of news content makes it harder for younger people to compete.

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