Facebook’s Australia News Ban: What Is The Social Media Giant Up To And How Will It Be Affected? | Australian media
News has been banned from Facebook in Australia as the social media giant steps up its fight against the federal government’s proposed news media code. What is that supposed to mean? Will we see news on Facebook again soon? Or are we left with family photos and cat memes?
Who are the victims?
All Australian news organizations will no longer be able to post content on their Facebook pages and people based in Australia will no longer be able to link to news articles on Australian or international news sites.
However, as of Thursday morning, the block also hit a number of non-news sites, including some state health officials, the West Australian Fire and Emergency Services site, the Washington opposition leader’s site, several charities, including sites supporting victims of domestic violence, and union sites .
Some of them were restored on Thursday afternoon.
Facebook would be subject to the proposed code – and be required to pay publishers – if “news content” were published on its website. It could face penalties if, while subject to the code, it allows message content from some publishers that is not part of the code while blocking others.
This means that Facebook would not be able to simply block Australian publishers participating in the code, but would have to block all message content from Facebook. The social media giant is now trying to show how that would work in practice.
Therefore, not only Australian publishers but all international news sites are blocked in Australia.
But in enforcing the ban, Facebook said it accidentally blocked too many pages to meet the definition of messages.
“Since the law does not provide clear guidelines for the definition of news content, we have chosen a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted,” said a Facebook spokeswoman.
Why is Facebook doing this?
Facebook believes it offers news company a lot more advantages than news company Facebook. The company’s chief executive in Australia and New Zealand, Will Easton, said in a blog post announcing the ban that news content accounts for less than 4% of the content people see on their news feeds, while Facebook is 5.1 Billions of clicks on Australian news websites made up 2020.
Facebook argues that this value is not taken into account in structuring the negotiations in the proposed message code.
Facebook pressed the nuclear button to show media companies how little news means to Facebook – and how much it could hurt traffic to news sites if suddenly interrupted.
How does this affect you?
If you are based in Australia you will not be able to see or post links to news sites from Australia or overseas.
You will be greeted with a pop-up explaining why you are unable to post the link.
Some of the government sites that you could rely on may also be blocked if Facebook hasn’t managed to unblock them yet.
If you are based outside of Australia, you will not be able to post links to Australian news sites.
How does it play out?
Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had constructive discussions about the code with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday morning, but indicated that the government was not interested in further developing the code. (Although it might be open to possible changes.)
“[Zuckerberg] explained to me that they have concerns about aspects of the code and it is about interpreting some of its elements, ”said Frydenberg.
“He will come back to me with more deliberate views. We will listen to him and discuss this with the Prime Minister and with our colleagues. And then we will make decisions. But we are committed to the code. “
The House of Representatives passed the law on Wednesday evening and will soon be discussed in the Senate. The government could try to make changes depending on the outcome of the negotiations with Facebook – which could result in messages returning to the platform.
But for now, Facebook has shown no willingness to back down, other than unblocking government sites.
What does it mean for combating misinformation?
It’s no secret that misinformation and disinformation is easily spread on Facebook. Nine Entertainment warned that the lack of messages from Facebook would make the situation worse.
A cursory review of some of the biggest far-right misinformation websites on Thursday showed they couldn’t post on Facebook. But a lot of the misinformation spread on Facebook is memes or texts that would not be covered by the ban.
Individuals wishing to correct such misinformation from relatives or friends would not be able to reply with a link to a news article.
Facebook has announced that it will continue its fact-checking partnership with newspaper agencies AAP and AFP, and it will continue to provide an information hub on Covid-19.
Isn’t the whole media code just an attempt by the government to help News Corp and Murdoch?
The News Media Code will benefit news publishers with annual sales of $ 150,000 or more. News Corp Australia will benefit significantly from the code, but if you look at the contracts it has signed with Google for News Showcase over the past few weeks, other publishers will be winning too, including Nine, ABC, SBS, Junkee, Seven, Guardian Australia, and others. Guardian Australia is in discussions with Google about its Showcase product.
The code doesn’t just cover payments. That would mean that if they change their algorithms, for example hide messages completely, Facebook or Google would have to give notice in advance.