Facebook has plunged Australia into a news black hole, holding its own users hostage.
Australians will see no news on Facebook. The world will see no news from Australia on Facebook.
To spite media companies, Facebook has cut off its users’ facts.
Australia’s world-first code is designed to make Big Tech compensate news companies for the content they create, on the grounds that the search and social media giants profit from its creation.
It has been vehemently opposed by Facebook and Google, who argued it misunderstands their relationship with the media and how the internet works, and fails to recognise the benefits Big Tech delivers to news organisations.
But this Facebook tantrum was not the inevitable result of the Australian Government’s policy.
With the code on the verge of becoming law, Google has in recent days struck constructive deals with Nine Entertainment, News Corp and Seven West Media – paying what amounts to a tiny percentage of its Australian revenue but is a meaningful sum for the news businesses.
Facebook has instead opted for destruction.
This is not a targeted strike against Scott Morrison’s administration or the Australian news industry. Facebook chose the nuclear option – and the fallout is global.
Before you dismiss that as hyperbole from a self-interested journalist, consider this. Facebook has not only stopped Australian news publishers from posting or sharing. It has:
- Banned Australian Facebook users from sharing news from local media outlets
- Denied Australians the ability to see news posted by media companies anywhere in the world
- Hidden Australia from the world, so users worldwide “cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook”.