Facebook has decided to show the Australian Government its resolve by removing Australian news content from Facebook across the globe yesterday, and it’s certainly made news (ironically). Rather than pay news media for sharing their content – its debatable whether it actually does this – it’s simply gone and removed all such content from the site, and anyone who attempts to post anything with a link to Australian news has their post blocked.

It has caused an outpouring of discontent, with various news media organisations large and small taking to – wait for it – Facebook to tell their readers how to find their content now it can’t be found on Facebook.

We’ve already seen various forms of ingenuity, from putting spaces in URLs so would-be readers can paste it into their address bar, remove spaces, and access content, through to using URL shortening services such as Bit.Ly to “mask” the media organisation’s URL so Facebook can’t filter it.

Frankly, it’s all an exercise in stupidity, and a race to the bottom; Facebook will – if it wants to – catch on to these tricks very swiftly, and soon enough they won’t work either. If Facebook wants Australian news off its platform, it’s going to happen quickly and mostly effectively, too.

If it’s not sneaky URLs, its content creators posting videos (for the first time in ever) on Facebook – again, LOL – encouraging their readers to actually read their websites instead of finding their news on Facebook.

This, folks, is precisely the danger of hitching your wagon to a private enterprise for getting your content out there. When that enterprise doesn’t want to help you anymore, you’re adrift without so much as a single oar.

People may say the same thing about Google, and to a large degree they’d be correct. Just as Facebook has wiped Australian news from its platform, so too could Google … except the search giant has indicated it won’t be doing this, and is in fact reaching deals with most major media organisations as we speak to comply with the new Australian law.

If Google were to remove Australian news from its search coverage, though, I’d wager most news organisations would cease to exist within days, as a huge volume of any website’s traffic these days is on search referrals from sites like Google.

So, any media organisation that has – wisely – focused its efforts on good practices and performance will still be indexed by Google and will still receive a good volume of traffic from it. Those that have focused on Facebook are facing a rude awakening; that social-first approach wasn’t wise, and will bite back now.

Frankly, I think Facebook without all this content takes it back to what it was probably better at being – a place to connect with family and friends.

By becoming more than that, Facebook largely became the problem rather than the solution. From live-streaming the Christchurch massacre a couple of years ago, to so readily allowing all forms of conspiracy theory to flourish and grow, thoroughly violating any concept of actual privacy and more, Facebook is as often an example of the worst of humanity as it is anything else.

By flexing its corporate muscle in this way, Facebook has yet again demonstrated it is unfit to be considered a public good; it is, after all, a money-driven capitalist corporation which exists for the betterment of its shareholders and its founders. Paying media organisations – however stupid and ill-conceived the law may be – is something that Facebook considers it shouldn’t have to do, given it (effectively) drives a lot of revenue towards media anyway, as it would rather keep that revenue from advertising etc. for itself, rather than share with others.

That greed has pushed Facebook to show its true face to Australia, and while it seems almost certain the move will be backtracked in the not too distant future, one hopes that Australians have a long memory of how quickly, easily and without much concern Facebook acted against us.

It might’ve been trying to send a message to the government, but all it succeeded in doing was sending a message to us all; we’re only as important to Facebook as the revenue we can generate for it, and if we generate an obligation to pay others, then we’re expendable.

Ausdroid ditched Facebook long ago, and we suspect from this week’s actions, many more will be ditching it very soon.

 

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Andrew J
Andrew J
17 days ago

Facebook is, after all, a money-driven capitalist corporation which exists for the betterment of its shareholders and its founders.

The same can be said for the Murdoch owned media in Australia pushing these laws.

robg
robg
17 days ago

Whose opinion is the above? While I avoid Facebook (isn’t it just a virus?) many people find it useful. Forcing Google and Facebook to pay the big media conglomerates who have the federal liberals in their pockets anyway is not going to help journalism. Just remember that when something like this happens, watch where the money goes. In this case just to three giant media conglomerates!

Wayno
Wayno
17 days ago

I disagree with this. The bill the government is trying to push through will force FB to pay for any news shared on its platform – and for one thing has not tightly defined what news is, leaving Facebook open to be stung paying for all kinds of sites. But this other issue is a basic lack of understanding of how Facebook works. Let’s say I run mynewssite.com. I set up a Facebook page to connect with more readers. I share a news story on my Facebook page, and then 10 people share that story on theirs. Facebook is now… Read more »

Adam M
Adam M
Reply to  Wayno
17 days ago

I agree completely Wayno. It’s also important to recognise that Google is striking a deal to pay news organisations to publish their content on their News service, which they have now rolled out to Australia. This is fundamentally different to what the government’s code was trying to do, which was to force Google to pay for including links to those same news organisation’s websites in their search results. If the government insists on the latter, which is as equally uncontrolled as Facebook’s situation, we will see Google search withdrawn from Australia in minutes, not days or weeks. The blame here… Read more »

Snoozin
Snoozin
17 days ago

It just shows you how much info Facebook was getting for free and not paying their dues once they took it offline.
The world governments need to stand up against them and get fairness happening.

Darren
Darren
Reply to  Snoozin
17 days ago

I don’t understand how you can being on a niche enthusiast tech site like and have no understanding of this issue.

Clyde
Clyde
17 days ago

I joined Facebook to connect with family and friends. As it grew, I very rarely checked news updates.
This new change doesn’t affect the way I use Facebook.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Clyde
16 days ago

If anything I’ve actually found the signal to noise ratio has improved significantly. Without the news it’s a much more usable service and more similar to how it was in the early days (except now it’s got parents and grandparents on it unlike then 😢)

Darren
Darren
17 days ago

I agree with much of what you say about FB but applaud them for standing up against this stupid law.

DDT
DDT
18 days ago

it still amaze me that ppl go to social media for news story instead of going directly to the site and checking them

Jeff
Jeff
Reply to  DDT
17 days ago

Exactly, google up or Bing, Duck Duck whatever the organization you want to connect with and go straight there. I’ve never used Facebook for news.

Wayno
Wayno
Reply to  DDT
17 days ago

I use feedly.com and set up the news sites I want (including Ausdroid, natch). I can’t imagine relying on Facebook for news.

Really
Really
18 days ago

“one hopes that Australians have a long memory of how quickly, easily and without much concern Facebook acted against us.” I don’t agree they didn’t act against us they acted against being forced to do something they didn’t want to do, the only difference is they stood up, most of us take it. The one’s who got hurt the most are the media company’s and some of the other websites that got caught up in it…oh and the government who thought they were in the box seat. If you have spent anytime in corporate Australia you know people have short… Read more »

Quasar
Quasar
Reply to  Really
17 days ago

Yeah. I hope fb doesn’t cave. Link taxes are wrong and that’s all this is, rather than the lies peddled by Murdoch and his clients in government.