Facebook has threatened to ban news from being shared on its main app and Instagram, snubbing and attacking the new regulatory code the ACCC is developing. The new code would force social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google to pay the major news outlets in Australia such as 9 Entertainment, CBSViacom/Network 10, Seven West Media and NewsCorp Australia for the content they offer.
Facebook Australia managing director, Will Easton, has stated that the proposed legislation “misunderstands the dynamics of the internet” and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect.
Mr Easton has also stated that “Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram.” Furthermore it has stated that this is not its first decision, but its last.
Mr Easton further states in his post that “News organisations in Australia and elsewhere choose to post news on Facebook for this precise reason”, which in turn they encourage readers to share news across social platforms to increase readership of their stories. He also stated that for the first five months of 2020, Facebook Australia has sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge which they have said would lead to additional traffic worth an estimated AU$200 million to Australian publishers.
Facebook Australia has invested millions of dollars with Australian news and media businesses, and during the various discussions on the proposed legislation has offered to invest even more money. It was also hopeful in bringing its new Facebook News feature platform to Australian shores, but given the current legislative proposal left it with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge Facebook for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits.
Facebook and Google have three months to negotiate revenue sharing deals with media outlets before an independent arbitrator is called in to impose a compulsory arrangement. The code also provides a requirement to provide advance notice of algorithm changes and information on how and when Google and Facebook make data available for publishers with penalties of up to 10% applying should the major tech giants fail to comply.
The news of this comes off the back of Google last week going public with warnings for its users on YouTube and Google search home page about the proposed legislation and to complain to their local Federal Government ministers about the proposed changes.