Last month we reported on an open letter that Google shared with its content creators and users in Australia. It pertained to the company’s opposition to a new law being proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that would give publishers a greater percentage of ad revenue from platforms like Google.
Now Facebook has weighed in on the same proposed law (News Media Bargaining Code), as it too stands to lose some ad revenue if it gets approved by the Australian government.
To that end, in a blog post published earlier this week, Facebook says that it would have to stop users from accessing news on its platforms if the law were to be passed.
“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. This is not our first choice – it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector,” writes Will Easton, MD for Facebook Australia & New Zealand.
“The proposed law is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers. Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers,” he adds.
Along with greater percentages of ad revenue, the law would compel organisations like Google and Facebook to notify publishers of any changes to its algorithms, with failure to do so leading to penalties.
While the proposed law would indeed mean that Google, Facebook and other platforms that serve advertising and news will be required to adhere to a stricter set of regulations, the benefit it could result in for publishers in that region cannot be overlooked.
If such a law was in place locally for example, we may not have seen so many publishers falter during lockdown. This as ad revenue is the lifeblood that many, if not all, publishers in the country rely on.
Either way, it looks like Facebook and Google are prepared to stand firm and remove access to its services if the News Media Bargaining Code passes. As such it should be interesting to see who blinks first in this game of chicken.