In August 2020 Facebook threatened it would reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia to share local and international news on Facebook and Instagram if proposals to introduce the Media Bargaining law continued.
Overnight Will Eastman, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, explained how that threat is now a reality as Facebook has now restricted publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.
Eastman explained: “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.”
The media industry has reacted to the surprising news and below are some of the comments:
“SCA was surprised at the announcement and general lack of engagement. We expect Facebook and their users will be poorer given this outcome.
“ Radio engages audiences at scale every day – not just through Facebook but through its other platforms especially Instagram, which at this time seems to be unaffected. We look forward to understanding the rules of engagement moving forward.”
Simon Wheeler (Director of Content, Verizon Media ANZ)
“We’re disappointed Facebook has felt the need to take this drastic action, which is going to have a tangible effect on Australian publishers and will adversely impact the large number of Australians who use their news feed to discover news stories.
“Removing premium and trusted content poses further challenges for Facebook in providing a brand-safe and premium environment.
“In Australia we have been preparing for this eventuality and working hard to diversify our sources of audience, including the use of our Verizon Media proprietary Native solution. This approach has resulted in double-digit audience growth for our brands – Yahoo News, Yahoo Sport, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Lifestyle. These solutions are available to all publishers for use.”
Nine Entertainment Co (through a spokesman)
“It is unfortunate Facebook have taken this position and it will indeed inhibit us from sharing our quality news and information with Australians. Nobody benefits from this decision as Facebook will now be a platform for misinformation to rapidly spread without balance. This action proves again their monopoly position and unreasonable behaviour.
“But today’s statement does not mean Facebook will not have to abide by the Federal Governments proposed code. Value has already been transferred and Facebook has benefited from our content for many years. We should be able to access their monopoly platform and have the right to monetise our content as a result.
“We have been negotiating with Facebook in good faith and we remain willing to do a deal with them that provides a mutually beneficial outcome and ensures quality information is available to all Australia.”
Andrew Burke, Outbrain Managing Director APAC and Growth Markets
“Facebook’s decision to pull all Australian news is a massive blow to local publishers and for the free exchange of information and ideas in Australia. This will be especially hard for smaller publishers who rely on this platform for people to discover their content.
“At Outbrain we’re committed to working with publishers to create an equitable and sustainable business model. More importantly, we already have in place the tools to help all publishers push their content to new audiences and get discovered in the right places.
“To that end we are offering increased assistance to publishers impacted by this sudden and dramatic change, to help them continue to provide the vital services which benefit every Australian.”