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What happened to Facebook?

Update: 24th Feb 2021

It’s been an interesting week for the news vs Facebook situation, but it appears the two groups have reached common ground and Facebook will be bringing news back to Australia.

  • The Govt introduced a bill for Google and Facebook
  • All parties negotiated on the specifics
  • Facebook couldn’t reach an agreement
  • Facebook bans news from it’s platform
  • The Government amends the bill
  • Facebook is now happy
  • News will return back to Facebook

Facebook’s VP of Global News Partnerships, Campbell Brown clarified the situation in a post:

“We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days. Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.”

You can read the full response here.

Now everybody can relax as the Facebook we remember makes a return. It is important to point out that whilst this very public battle has ensued, the News Media Bargaining Code has within it many amendments that effect the digital landscape. Stay tuned for updates.

Original Post: 23rd Feb 2021

So you jumped on to Facebook recently to do your usual scan through the feed, and noticed that all of the news articles you were once following are no longer showing up. What’s up with that?

Well friend, it is part of an ongoing battle between the Australian government and The Zucc revolving around the proposed NEWS MEDIA BARGAINING CODE. If you are unfamiliar with this code, I covered it in exhausting detail last year in this post.

To cut to the chase, the ACCC were looking at ways to charge Social Media Platforms and Search Engines to pay News Corporations for the news articles that users share on these platforms. To use an example, if I had a store and you sent me customers, you would now have to pay ME for sending me those customers.

News executives when they first heard about this bill…probably

The bill left too much room for news corporations to charge what they felt like, with no ceiling.

This didn’t make much sense, and both Google and Facebook attempted to reach a common and fair ground with the ACCC. Google has reached an agreement but Facebook ultimately decided that they would just remove news from their platform.

What does this mean for the future of Facebook in Australia?

Please do not panic! For the most part, personal users and non news related businesses will not really suffer. Sure you won’t get news in your feed, but all of these outlets have apps and subscriptions you can still opt in for on their own sites.

Ironically, I would urge most people not to read the news on this topic. Based on what I have read so far, there are a plethora of articles written in response to Facebook’s move. It’s safe to say that the response seems a little bitter…

To be fair, I would be bitter if someone stopped me from getting a truckload of cash.

Whilst there appears to be a meltdown about the current situation, if you own a regular business, you can still post and market your business to over 11 million Australians on Facebook. As with all things, only time will tell if the platform is doomed in Australia, but for now keep posting, keep your ads running and keep engaging with your audience. Perhaps use this time to dust off the old blog and start writing some news of your own.

Your approach to marketing your business should never be one dimensional, try to keep a multi-channelled approach to all of your outreach.

About the author: Carl Mayer

Carl is a developer and digital strategist with 15 years experience. Since starting in the industry he has had a keen interest in improving user experience across the web, which morphed into a passion of improving the user experience with brands as a whole.
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