There’s an ongoing stoush between the Australian Government and Big Tech, namely Facebook and Google.
Essentially, the Australian Government wants Facebook and Google to pay content providers when that content is shared.
This morning, Facebook went for broke and restricted access to news sites, such as ABC, The Age, Guardian Australia and so on. Even satirical sites, like The Betoota Advocate, The Chaser and The Shovel are blocked and charities, like MS Research are even seeing their content blacked out.
Effectively, Australian media voices have gone dark on the largest and most consumed online social network on the planet.
How will You be Affected?
Aside from not being able to post or share “news” media, you won’t see content from media providers. At first glance, this is inconvenient, but below the surface this has a significant impact.
I can’t access the Bureau of Meteorology posts. I’ve been alerted of severe weather alerts through Facebook, not to mention floods, covid updates, transport updates and fire.
At the beginning of last year, Australia experienced catastrophic fires and many people turned to Facebook and other online networks for updates and the check in on friends and family.
That’s been taken away.
Content producers and Community Managers will be impacted, especially at media organisations. Insights, such as sentiment and engagement won’t include any metrics from Facebook.
We’ll also see a rise in misinformation on Facebook, with media organisations unable to counter it with factual journalism.
What Can You Do?
The Australian Government will need to negotiate with Facebook about the proposed legislation, which is ongoing.
This morning, I had a constructive discussion with Mark Zuckerberg from #Facebook.
He raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward.
— Josh Frydenberg (@JoshFrydenberg) February 17, 2021
But I think that individual media organisations will approach Facebook and negotiate for themselves, at least until there’s a resolution.
I’m not sure how effective this will be, but if you’ve been affected, you can try changing your Page category settings from “News” to something like “Travel Website”, or whatever is appropriate for you.
Just go to your page, then Settings, then Page Info. Add the categories you want and remove any reference to news.
My key takeaway from this is that we can’t rely on third party platforms to also be available for use. Your online communications strategy needs to have a mix of social, web, mobile, communities, forums and email to connect across your audiences.
Secondly, it is more important than ever to develop a Social Listening strategy. You need to know where your content is being shared and what the reactions to that content is. With these restrictions in place, communities and forums will probably see an uptick in content sharing. Take this opportunity to unearth new audiences today.