Facebook and Australian government reach agreement on news

Posted on February 24, 2021

 

Although it’s happening on the other side of the planet, the ongoing rift between Australia and tech giants over paying news providers for content has pricked ears here in the UK and around the world. Thankfully, it appears the country and Facebook have now found some sort of middle ground.

The row centres on Australia’s “News media bargaining code”, which we’ve written about previously. In essence, it treats companies like Facebook and Google as publishers and requires them to pay news providers for the content they share. This led Facebook to threaten to block news altogether in the country.

Last week, it followed through on those threats, leading one Australian politician to accuse the social media giant of acting like a “North Korean dictator”. In typical Facebook style, it made a bit of a mess of it too, blocking access to trusted sources on vital matters like COVID-19 and bushfires.

Earlier this week, however, a last-minute change by the Australian government satisfied Facebook and the ban has been reversed. According to The Guardian, the change means that rather than paying for each individual news story shared, Facebook and other platforms need to demonstrate that they are agreeing sufficient deals with news outlets.

It’s a relief that the parties involved appear to have come to some sort of compromise, even if it’s not an ideal one for either, and at Engage Web, we see both sides of the debate. There can be no doubt that it’s better for news providers and businesses to have their content widely seen, and Facebook (provided it works on tackling misinformation) is a great and useful tool for keeping us updated on current affairs and other information. On the other hand, there has long been a debate that tech giants are taking too much money from other people’s work, with one example being Google snippets displaying answers to queries without the user needing to click through to the site they came from.

In reality, governments and digital companies need each other, and while they may disagree on matters, it seems unlikely that either can really play hardball with the other. We don’t see the need for search engine optimisation and social media campaigns diminishing any time soon, and at Engage Web, we can help you make the most of both. Why not get in contact with us today?

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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