Facebook bans Australian news.

by Jim February 22, 2021

Google cut deals but Facebook simply picked up their ball and went home. That’s right; Facebook decided they weren’t going to be dictated to by the Australian government and overnight banned Australian news content from their platform. While the implications of the move depend on your news views, it may have consequences for your business.

  • Facebook isn’t rolling over.
  • Why they didn’t cut a deal like Google.
  • Non-related pages suffer the consequences.
  • How it might affect your business.

Transcript

Hey, welcome back, Rankers. How you going? Today’s an interesting day. Facebook has banned all news content on Facebook. Interesting. Now this is in response to the ACCC media bargaining code.

No Likes for Facebook!

Now, a lot of people say, “Oh my God. Facebook, you’re terrible.” I was like, well look, I’m not a fan of Facebook, and I am not a fan of old school media, mainstream media, and I’m not a fan of Twitter and all these other big organisations that center the news to suit their own agendas. And I firmly believe that, left, right, whatever, they’re all doing it. So this is like two, as Heath in the office said, it’s like two rich kids having a fight. Facebook has decided to take the ball and go home, which is understandable, given what the media bargaining code is trying to get them to do. They’re trying to get Facebook to pay for people sharing the news organisations, sharing their own content on the Facebook platform.

It doesn’t make sense with Google, either. I’m surprised Google didn’t do this, but I suspect from the data that I’ve looked at, Google actually needs that traffic from news and weather. Maybe it doesn’t make money directly from it, but certainly it is a destination for that information. And I hope to bring you some information about a new search engine soon, which has a completely paradigm shift from what we know a search engine to be. And it’s quite interesting because it does make me think what search should be.

Now, as far as advertisers are concerned, obviously, it’s going to affect the news media organisations now. I’ve seen some people out there claim that, oh, they’re going to lose 30 to 40% of their traffic.

I don’t think that’s the case because people are less likely to jump out of Facebook to go and read the full news article, right, so Facebook probably does not represent that size of traffic. How much it would be, oh, it might be 20%, I guess. Certainly I think Google would be the biggest driver of traffic to these news media organisations.

Now on Google, doesn’t look like they’re going to leave. They’ve done a deal with Seven. They’re doing a deal with News Corp. I think they’ve done a deal or they’re about to do a deal with Nine, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but this is using their Google News Showcase thing. It’s basically they’re paying the news organisations to give users access to pay wall content and all sorts of things. If you’re into the news, great. I’m not, I avoid it, all news as much as I possibly can. If you’re in Australia and you’re a fan of Skyhooks, they have a song about it. You can sing it in your head now for the rest of the day. Sorry.

The things to check, though, today I think would be there’s been a lot of pages that have been taken down by Google or all the content removed, which you wouldn’t think are news organisations. So even though I don’t use Twitter or Facebook anymore for personal use, I still do have access and I do like to watch. So ABC Australia, you can see there, they’re all the same. But then so is satirical site pages like The Shovel, Betoota Advocate. There’s another one missing. Ah, the Chase Up. Their content’s disappeared as well, as has certain union pages. So this was a tweet from Sally McManus saying, “What the hell is going on?”

Well, this is happening in the US as well, and in Britain, where they are, literally, censoring left-wing content now.

Who stands to benefit from this?

Now, if you are an advocate of having opinions that you don’t like censored, that’s a problem because it eventually comes back to you, as most of us know, right? So censorship is bad because eventually it’ll start censoring opinions you do like, and which is what is happening now with a lot of people. So if you were one of the people cheering censorship for opinions you don’t like, this is where it leads.

You might say, “Oh, well, no. It’s just commercial response, Jim.” Yeah, but they don’t have to worry about taking stuff down now. They don’t have to worry about cancelling things now because we’ve had all the precedence of… It’s such an old story of first they came for the conspiracy theorists, right? Now they’re going after other opinions that they may think they don’t like on Facebook. Certainly I don’t know why the Australian unions page has been taken down, how that somehow constitutes a news organisation.

Bureau of Meteorology has been taken down, which is interesting, because I think that, given the government’s media code and my understanding of it, which is limited, they would be classified as a potential news organisation under that code based on the information that they’re providing to the Australian public. So I’m not surprised about that one. The satellite sites, yeah, possibly because they are reporting, I guess, on current events and under the media bargaining code, they could be construed as a news media organisation.

The ones I don’t understand are things like Queensland Health Department. So weird.

So the things I would go and check today, and I’ve gone and checked a few already, just go and check your own pages, your brand pages on Facebook. Make sure you haven’t been classified as a news site because that could be an issue. If you have any advertising campaigns where you might be promoting news articles in your ads that it might be about your brand, so one technique that I’ve seen used is that if you get a lot of great PR, you then use those links in advertising on Facebook for brand awareness and getting people aware of what people are saying about you in the media. That’s probably not going to be possible now, either.

The thing that is still possible at the moment is you can share news stories via Facebook Messenger, which is interesting because that means the platform still has news content on it. So I don’t know where it goes from here, and there’s a lot of people saying, “Oh, this is Rupert Murdoch.” Yes. As I said, maybe he’s got a part in it. But so is the Guardian, so is the federal opposition. They’re lock-step with the government on this. Everyone thinks this is a good idea so who stands to gain from it?

Anybody in this industry just thinks this is ridiculous. What? You want Facebook to pay you for putting your content on their platform? Doesn’t make sense. That’s like asking a billboard owner to pay you to advertise on his billboard. Doesn’t make sense.

Hopefully, that’s helpful. Let me know if you see any other interesting things or rather any interesting anomalies.

Now just remember, webinar, Thursday, the 25th, 11:00 AM. Head across to www.stewartmedia.com.au/webinar. We’ve already had a lot of bookings. Only got a few spots left, and then we will be closing it off, so don’t forget.

Hopefully, that’s helpful, and we’ll see you next week. Thanks very much. Bye.

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