This morning Facebook announced that they would restrict Australian media publications from sharing news, Australian users from sharing news from local and international publications, and international users from sharing Australian news. Effective immediately.
The news takedown has been happening systematically across the country since early this morning.
Facebook’s definition of news is much further reaching than expected, with many small and independent publications taking a hit, as well as government bodies.
From ABC News, The Guardian Australia, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, to smaller publications, like Junkee, Concrete Playground, Man of Many, Urban List, and Mamamia, anything that slightly looks, sounds, or smells like news has been wiped from the platform.
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Why’s this happening?
There’s been debate between Facebook and the Australian Government (specifically the ACCC) over the last few months over the revenue that news provides and who it should go to.
The government insists that Facebook pay news publishers for their content, and Facebook has been threatening to ban all Australian news content from their feeds.
Google made similar threats, but in the last few days backed down and began to sign deals with major news publishers such as Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment Co. and the ABC.
But Facebook claims that there are fundamental differences in the way Facebook and Google use news content.
Both Facebook and news publishers benefit from the sharing of content on the platform, so forcing Facebook to pay publishers for content isn’t necessarily fair. Facebook referred 5.1 billion views to publishers last year, which it values at $407 million.
Ok fair play, but have they gone too far?
It’s More Than Just News
However the tech giant seems to have stepped over the line today, with many government health pages, including SA Health, Queensland Health, and non-for profit organisations, such as Hobart Women’s Shelter, also becoming censored.
The fact that Facebook has allowed these essential sources of information to become obsolete in the middle of a global pandemic is short sighted, to say the least.
Please note, since publication, these particular Facebook pages have been reinstated.
Although this feels and seems alarming, it’s important to remember that news hasn’t been lost. Although it’s no longer on your Facebook feed, there are still many ways to access news.
How To Access News Now
1. Direct Email!
Sign up to media publisher’s email lists! And while you’re at it, add your name to ours. Every week we send an email with our best articles from the week direct to your inbox, where Zuck can’t get his grubby mitts on it.
2. News Apps
Google and Apple have their own news apps and all your favourite publications are on them (including us!). Download one of these apps and make it your go-to for local, national, and international news.
3. News Publication Websites
Go straight to the source. All these publications still have a website where all of their news is housed. Support them by going there directly.
4. Become a subscriber to your favourite news source
Independent media needs your financial support now more than ever. Sign up to become a subscriber to the news publications you trust and read the most.
5. Buy a paper
Yes, they still exist. Trot on down to your local newsagency, hand over some coinage and sit back with a broadsheet and a cuppa.
Wait, How is We Are Explorers Still on Facebook?
By sheer dumb luck, we’re listed as a ‘Travel Company’, not a media publisher. Don’t tell Zuck.
Who knows how long our Facebook stint will last, best to sign up now and guarantee your adventure fix in your inbox every week.