Facebook ACCC Submission: “Just Like Newspapers, We Rely On Advertising”

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., listens as Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, not pictured, speaks during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. Prime Minister Modi plans on connecting 600,000 villages across India using fiber optic cable as part of his
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Facebook has entered its 59-page submission to the ACCC following the union’s public inquiry into the impact of digital platforms on competition in media.

The submission skirts around any mention of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, instead focusing on “the interconnected relationship among people, journalists and publishers, and the advertisers that are the source of most of our revenue”.

Facebook treads carefully when addressing publishers, rather focusing on the competitive nature of the “evolving media landscape” and Facebook’s place within in it.

“Facebook represents a small part of this diverse and expanding global media ecosystem.”

Speaking of its advertising model, the submission states: “Just like newspapers have for over a century, we rely on advertising to support our services”.

However, adds: “The reason we have chosen the ad-supported model is because it is the only one that will work to connect the entire world.”

The submission repeatedly addresses Facebook and publishers as two entirely separate entities in terms of news content.

“Although news is a very small part – less than five per cent – of the content shared in NewsFeed, we take our role very seriously in the news ecosystem in helping people gather information about what is going on in the world around them.”

The attempt to distance the social media platform from publishers is then reiterated when the submission details how Facebook is actually “supporting” them.

“We support the efforts of publishers of all sizes to build their businesses on Facebook through advertising, branded content and subscriptions.”

Adding, “We support the efforts of publishers to monetise their content off Facebook through advertising, subscriptions and, most notably, referral traffic, which a publisher can monetise in a number of ways, including serving advertising, implementing a paywall, or further developing its user base”.

Though, the submission also notes how Facebook is helping journalists to “find ways to flourish” using the platform, through several “efforts” including training programs.

In terms of advertising revenue, the submission is not shy about the extent to which it supports the social media platform.

“Advertising is Facebook’s primary source of revenue. In 2017, it accounted for 98 per cent of our revenue.”

“Our goal is to be the best dollar and the best minute our advertisers spend.”

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