“In response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content”, William Easton (Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand) announced.
And he added: “We were prepared to launch Facebook News in Australia and significantly increase our investments with local publishers, however, we were only prepared to do this with the right rules in place. 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. We will now prioritise investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences.”
The new Bargaining Law as it is conceived ” 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 underscores in his official communication.
“We hope that in the future the Australian government will recognise the value we already provide and work with us to strengthen, rather than limit, our partnerships with publishers,” he ends.
Changes to be introduced in sharing and viewing news content
Facebook will introduce some restricitons on sharing and viewing news in the social network but will not stop the acces to other services related:
1.- For Australian publishers:
a) They are restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages
b) Admins will still be able to access other features from their Facebook Page, including Page insights and Creator Studio
c) We will continue to provide access to all other standard Facebook services, including data tools and CrowdTangle
2.- For international publishers:
a) They can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences
3.- For our Australian community:
a) They cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook or content from Australian and international news Pages
4.- For our international community:
a) They cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news Pages
To make the restrictions effective “we are using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and we will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed”, William Easton explained.
Facebook will still keep on promoting some dedicated information hubs
Easton added another three precisions: “The changes affecting news content will not otherwise change Facebook’s products and services in Australia. We want to assure the millions of Australians using Facebook to connect with friends and family, grow their businesses and join Groups to help support their local communities, that these services will not change.
“We recognise it’s important to connect people to authoritative information and we will continue to promote dedicated information hubs like the COVID-19 Information Centre, that connects Australians with relevant health information. Our commitment to remove harmful misinformation and provide access to credible and timely information will not change. We remain committed to our third-party fact-checking program with Agence France-Presse and Australian Associated Press and will continue to invest to support their important work.
“Our global commitment to invest in quality news also has not changed. We recognise that news provides a vitally important role in society and democracy, which is why we recently expanded Facebook News to hundreds of publications in the UK.”
The proposed law misunderstands the value exchange between Facebook and publishers
The Mananging Director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand explains: “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”
“…In fact, and as we have made clear to the Australian government for many months, 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.”
Not the same value exchange Google provides
“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,” William Easton (Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand) pointed.