Facebook’s Turbulent Relationship With Australian News

For Australian news sites and Facebook, the past week has been turbulent.

Credit: BBC

Facebook’s initial withdrawal of news articles specifically in Australia from their worldwide social media platform has been revoked almost as quickly as it was implemented.

What caused them to invoke the ban?

The ban was caused by an intended law that was suggested to Australian parliament in December 2020. The law would have meant that for larger community/public platforms such as Facebook and Google, it would be mandatory for the sites to pay news organizations for links to content.

Consequently, the search engine Google also made clear their intention to block Australia’s access to their site. What was the motivation behind such a law?

With the widespread accessibility to news in the modern era, more traditional means are becoming obsolete. Sources like newspapers that had previously generated financial revenue for Australia are being neglected. Consumers favour sources that can provide information more efficiently and immediately to them.

Is Facebook really one of those sources?

Public reaction to Facebook taking away news content and ads would say otherwise. Most Twitter users seemed unfazed that the ability to share news would be disappearing from the behemoth of a social platform, commenting, “I, for one, have never used Facebook to get my news content.”

Despite this, there were users who brought up valid points. For one user, concern arose due to the importance of the community page and its impact:

“When we were surrounded by fires in 2019/20 ABC Emergency reports were constantly shared on our local Facebook community page. Local ABC radio posts were shared to help coordinate community relief. The ABC is important to community pages”

Facebook’s decision, nonetheless, did seem to leave an impact. The Australian government incorporated amendments to the intended law. Additionally, discussions with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and/or representatives led to negotiations concerning pay to the journalists for content.

As a result, Facebook have agreed to reinstate the ability for Australia to both share and access news.

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