Facebook v Australian News

One of the biggest dangers which social media sites have had in recent years is that they have become news sources. This can be helpful for many, but of course it then creates issues around the validity of the news. This has in turn put the responsibility on the shoulders of these tech giants, to find ways of fact checking and managing news sources. Not only this, but social media companies are actively making money via ads, from news produced by others.

What we have seen in the last month is a huge conflict between Australian news and Facebook, as the government sought to pass a bill which would see the social media giant pay for their news. The issue comes from the fact that Facebook ads make money for the social media company, yet they do so off the back of news sources.

Social Media Fightback

This is not the only place in the world where this is happening, but Australia has taken the lead to lobby Facebook to pay for the news which they get from Australian media outlets. Facebook marketing depends on viewing, and through the sharing of news pieces, the social media giant is stripping away revenues from the outlets. Not everyone has been in agreement with the Australian government, yet many have applauded the fact that they have taken a stand.

Facebook Fight Back

Once the bill was passed, the social media giant tried to fight back and took the position to ban all Australian news from being found on their site. However they did this without properly thinking through how they would do it, and that led to a botched job. Whilst the social media platform had initially sought to block media organisations, they ended up blocking government health websites too, which of course caused certain issues such as with individuals wanting to check on Covid statistics. Following this, Facebook and the Australian government brokered a deal which would see a potential agreement between the two.


As Facebook eased up on its restrictions, the government committed to making some amendments to the bill which was passed. What will now happen is that Facebook, and Google, will have to make independent deals with the news organisation, and Facebook ad management will reflect this agreed price. If there are any issues regarding negotiations then an independent arbitrator will step in and set the price for domestic media.

Lost Revenue

Whilst not everyone agrees with this move, it is hard to argue with the media outlets. In 2018 alone, of every A$100 which was spent by Australian advertisers, A$49 went to Google and A$24 went to Facebook. Facebook ads clearly perform better and the news organisations want to regain some of that ad spending, especially if it is for their content in the first place.

This has in fact proved to be a landmark case and one which we may very well end up seeing more of in the coming months and years. Local governments are pushing back on social media, and this war between Facebook and the government could set a new trend.