Noticed something different when you scrolled through Facebook this morning? Us too – our ‘news’ feeds are gone.
The social media giant has banned Australians from sharing or viewing news in their feeds, over the federal government’s proposed Media Bargaining Law.
Australia’s plan of forcing social media giants to pay for news content has (no surprise) been met with adversity, but Facebook’s taken it a step further – ridding our pages of news content altogether.
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It hasn’t just affected media pages, with critical accounts including Queensland Health, the Bureau of Meteorology and Translink also now stripped of their platform.
Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director William Easton released a statement on the move overnight.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” it reads.
“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.”
Most Australian news pages have had all their content stripped from the page, including cover photos in some cases.
Google had also threatened to pull its search engine from Australia but hasn’t moved forward with it yet.
Mr Easton says they’re both very different platforms, and Facebook ultimately had no choice.
“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,” his statement reads.
“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 per cent 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.”
The ball’s now back in the federal government’s court, with Facebook considering launching a specific Facebook News platform.
But it will depend on which rules the government puts in place.
It’s not just Australians who are unable to view or share news content from Australian publishers.
Posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted on a global scale as well.
More to come.