Government’s media law spectacularly backfires with Facebook ban on sharing to cripple Aussie businesses

    In 2020, most businesses have their social media profile sorted, regularly posting to their followers who happily share their content to friends, family and contacts for free.

    Overnight Facebook provided an update to their response to the Australian Government’s proposed media laws. These new laws would see international companies (who also have deep pockets) be charged for distributing legacy media’s content in Australia.

    Obviously not keen to endorse that crazy plan, Facebook response details their arguments against the proposed legislation (aka money grab), Facebook is suggesting their course of action would be to disable sharing for Australians.

    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.

    Yep, this is spectacularly backfiring on the Government.

    If COVID19 wasn’t enough of a hit to businesses, then having Facebook pull sharing from Australia, would destroy social traffic to business websites overnight which accounts for a large percentage of website visitors.

    News organisations in Australia and elsewhere choose to post news on Facebook for this precise reason, and they encourage readers to share news across social platforms to increase readership of their stories. This in turn allows them to sell more subscriptions and advertising. Over the first five months of 2020 we sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge – additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers. 

    Facebook’s response follows a very aggressive response from Google (who also happen to have deep pockets) from earlier last month.

    I encourage the Government to back away from this proposed legislation immediately. Australia is a capitalist economy and that means we’re all free to compete, if legacy media want to go build a social network or search engine, good luck, please delete your profiles from Facebook and Instagram and we’ll see how well you do with them.

    Advertising has gone online and its time we dealt with that change instead of having the Government do your bidding for an out-of-date business model. The days of no accountability for advertisement spends are over. Broad, blanket marketing of billboards, newspaper ads, radio and even TV all pale insignificance when compared to digital ads that are hyper-targetted and offer end-to-end conversion data.

    By the way, being a native online business since its inception more than 13 years ago, techAU would not be eligible for any income as a result of the new media legislation, however we will be impacted considerably if this Facebook and Instagram sharing ban proceeds.

    Read the full post from Facebook here.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


    1. I have no issue with Facebook or Google or anyone else no longer indexing or allowing “sharing” of Australia “newspaper” articles.

      Our newspapers these days are little more than a joke, there is almost no news any more, only soft, leftist, greenie, emotional “Womens Weekly” stories.

      I look forward to seeing actual Australian news as published by reliable foreign newspapers.

    2. News media can stop google indexing their site easily with an edit of robots.txt but they dont because like every webmaster they want their site indexed so people can find them on a internet directory like google. To ask to be paid for your news snippet to be displayed on is like me asking Yellow to pay me for listing my business; just about the stupidest suggestion ever and sure to be rejected, just list Google is rejecting this money grab.
      If Google does the logical thing and blocks from aussie ip addresses I’ll have to use a vpn to access which is like a major own goal for any website.

    3. TechAu being an Australia publication, and earning over $150K per year – would be eligible to recieve payment from Facebook and Google. $150 is the ACCC’s bar to qualify as a new organisation, a really low bar if you ask me. It’d barely pay for a one person operation.
      So when a new organisation like TechAU seems to be against protecting their own interests and protecting the interests of “Big Data” – it really surprises me. I have a similar feeling when I see Americans protest against free Universal healthcare. A power group of self serving interests have funded campaigns of misinformation to ensure that their financial interests are protected. And here, a new organisation, appears to have not done what appears to be basic fact checking.

      The ACCC responded to Google by the way. I’m interested to read their response to Facebook too.

      • Oh, the ACCC did respond to Facebook. Here, have some free journalism, my work costs me nothing and is undeserving of payment.

        By the way, the ACCC is making an “anti-trust law” – look up what that means, and see if Google’s “Open Letter” literally proves the power they yield to spread their (factually false) message, which the ACCC is trying to protect Australian’s from.
        You know your “consumer rights” come from the ACCC right? The ACCC are the good guys. They serve Australians like you and I. The ACCC is not the enemy.

        I’m going to unsubscribe from this site – TechAU’s sparse coverage of this topic, generally un-australian coverage of tech and what I consider to be unperceptive articles are not for me.

    4. Good to see someone calling the government on their idiot legislation. However get your terms right. capitalist economy, maybe you mean free market economy. And as to say anyone is free to compete, frankly that is bullshit. A monopoly is a monopoly whether it is Standard Oil or Google. Google and Facebook are taking monopoly profits and if you are advocating a free market economy then you should be thinking about breaking those giants up not enabling them.

        • Sorry Elvis, but although the DPI Final Report did not define ‘news’, the ACCC did note that it did include a definition of ‘public interest journalism’: journalism with the primary purpose of recording, investigating and explaining issues of public significance in order to engage citizens in public debate and inform
          democratic decision making at all levels of government.

          So if the primary purpose of public interest journalism is to explain significant public issues to engage people in public debate and inform democratic decision making, why should we be paying for news at all?

      • What you are referring to is monopoly power. In the US if a company controls enough of a market in a state or nationally, the courts can intervene by arguing monopoly power. Unfortunately, unless there’s been other develops since my days at Law School and the College of Law, that legal convention doesn’t exist in Australia. More importantly, I’ve just seen members of ScoMo’s mob state that if Google and Facebook decide to leave Australia, Microsoft would step in. Of course, you realize that Microsoft was sued in the US for bundling its Explorer search engine with it operating system that ostensibly eliminated Netscape Navigator usage as well as other engine use by net searchers. I believe an action was brought against Microsoft by the US government for this same activity. So if Microsoft does have to “step in” it would seem the Australian government is about to lay down with the devil so to speak.

    5. The legislation is a total crock. It’s being put in place to squeeze money of the search engine companies. If Media giants want to make money from the web, instead of putting a bar on viewers wanting to read articles on their site and demanding viewers pay $3.00 a month perhaps they should do what the engines do and place Ads on their webpages. As far as individuals posting links or information on Facebook, should they start demanding additional fees from Maccas or Hungry Jacks that provide newspapers to their patrons? Should we have transit officers fine people for media violations for leaving their newspapers behind on buses or trains? That’s more heinous then providing a link on Facebook.

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