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  • Voltaire Staff

Facebook owner Meta to stop paying Australia for news



Facebook-parent Meta will stop paying to Australian news publishers for content featured on Facebook, sparking a renewed confrontation with the Kangaroo Nation.


The move comes in the wake of Australia taking the lead globally by implementing legislation that mandates internet giants to negotiate licensing agreements.


Meta scrapped the news tab in the UK, France, and Germany last year.


The company in an official statement announced on Thursday, "In early April 2024, we will deprecate Facebook News – a dedicated tab in the bookmarks section on Facebook that spotlights news – in the US and Australia. This follows our September 2023 announcement that we deprecated Facebook News in the UK, France and Germany last year."


News publishers and governments, including Australia, have contended that Facebook and Google disproportionately profit from advertising revenue when news article links populate their platforms.


Meta has responded by reducing its emphasis on news and political content promotion in order to diversify user engagement. According to it, news links now constitute only a small portion of users' feeds.


The statement read, "Additionally, to ensure that we continue to invest in products and services that drive user engagement, we will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future."


This decision sets Meta in opposition to the Australian government and its 2021 legislation.


Anthony Albanese, Australian Prime Minister said, "The idea that one company can profit from others' investment, not just investment in capital but investment in people, investment in journalism, is unfair."


"That's not the Australian way," he added.


According to the 2021 law, the Australian government has the authority to appoint a mediator to establish Meta's fees and may impose fines if Meta refuses to cooperate. Meta, however, is not obliged to compensate news publishers if it prevents users from sharing news articles, a practice it briefly implemented in 2021.


The majority of Meta's agreements with Australian media outlets are valid for three years and are scheduled to conclude in 2024.


On Friday, Meta announced that publishers would still be able to share news content on Facebook.


However, media organisations in Australia strongly criticised the decision, denouncing it as an assault on the industry.


According to Reuters, Michael Miller, Australasia Executive Chairman of News Corp said, "Meta is using its immense market power to refuse to negotiate, and the government is right to explore every option for how the Media Bargaining Code's powers can be used."


Mike Sneesby, CEO of Nine Entertainment, argued that the decision overlooked the substantial value provided by the media company.


Although specific deal amounts have not been revealed, Australian media sources have indicated that Facebook's agreements are estimated to be worth A$70 million ($45 million) annually for the industry.


Numerous governments worldwide continue to prioritize safeguarding their local news industries from being marginalised in the online advertising market. Indonesia announced last month its intention to follow suit by requiring large tech firms to compensate for news content.

 

 

 

 

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