Will Facebook’s News Ban Backfire?

Will Facebook’s News Ban Backfire?
SHARE
THIS



Facebook outraged politicians, publishers and the public on Thursday, when it confirmed it would be making good on its promise to remove news content in Australia.

For many publishers, it will mean a significant drop in total web traffic overnight, while for many government organisations, brands and NGOs it has taken away a channel to communicate with customers and members.

So why did Facebook decide to take the nuclear option?

It was all about avoiding a global precedent.

Agreeing to the government’s News Media Bargaining Code here in Australia – which requires tech platforms to reimburse media outlets for news content – could leave the Zuckerberg-owned company vulnerable to similar legislation in other, more valuable, regions.

It’s also been suggested Facebook is still in talks with the government about a potential solution, which would suggest the news ban might be a short-term demonstration rather than a long-term strategy.

There’s also the fact that news does not play a significant role the Facebook business model.

Facebook Australia & New Zealand managing director William Easton revealed that news makes up less than four per cent of the content people see in their News Feed.

This would theoretically mean that the risk of advertisers moving away from Facebook is minimal, as the change should not significantly impact total traffic to the site.

According to Tug CEO and founder Nick Beck, however, advertisers will walk away not because of fewer eyeballs, but because of the way the company has handled itself.

“I don’t think advertisers will pull their budgets due to a concern of the quality of content. Facebook still has amazing targeting capabilities to reach your audience,” Beck told B&T.

“I believe Australian advertisers will pull their budget, and I’ve heard of many doing so today, because like the Australian public, they refuse to be bullied.”

Given the current high-profile dispute between Facebook and Apple over consumer privacy, which looks set to lead to an antitrust suit, Facebook is risking serious reputational damage with this latest move.

“I believe Facebook has misjudged the situation. The Australian public will not take kindly to being threatened so overtly,” Beck said.

“No matter what happens next, alongside their overt attacks on Apple for trying to improve consumer privacy, Facebook’s move will add to the growing sense, in Australia and globally, that they are the ‘worst bully’ of the tech giants.”

A year of Boycotts

If an advertiser boycott does ensue as a result of Facebook’s decision to remove news in Australia, it would come after another tumultuous year in the social media platform’s history.

Just last month, WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook) triggered an exodus of users when it asked its 2 billion global users to accept a new privacy policy, which would allow the app to share data with Facebook.

The move sparked outrage among users and saw rival encrypted messaging services such as Signal and Telegram garner millions of new downloads instantly, as users looked for WhatsApp alternatives.

WhatsApp has since delayed the rollout of the privacy policy.

In light of the Black Lives Matter protests in July last year, Facebook was hit with a mass advertiser boycott as the #StopHateForProfit movement went into full swing.

The boycott saw more than 1,000 global companies, including Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Diageo remove advertising from Facebook.

And while any Facebook boycott in light of the news ban in Australia is unlikely to be this large, it is worth noting that “Delete Facebook,” “Boycott Zuckerberg” and “Facebook We Need To Talk” are all now trending across social media.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Facebook News

Latest News

Eyeota Enhances Reach And Targeting Precision For RDA Research
  • Marketing

Eyeota Enhances Reach And Targeting Precision For RDA Research

Leading Australian market research data brand, RDA Research, provides actionable consumer intelligence to help businesses inform decision making and growth strategies. RDA Research wanted to make its unique consumer data available for addressable digital targeting and required a data onboarding partner to help activate their data in an online environment.

Enthral Strengthens Journalistic DNA By Hiring Channel 7 Reporter Sean Sowerby
  • Media

Enthral Strengthens Journalistic DNA By Hiring Channel 7 Reporter Sean Sowerby

Storytelling agency Enthral has appointed Channel 7 reporter and sports presenter Sean Sowerby as its new senior PR and content manager in Melbourne. Sowerby (pictured) started his award-winning career at 3AW before spending more than 15 years in television. Enthral founder and manager director, Cameron Smith, spoke of the significance of Sowerby joining the agency. […]

Blis Puts Its CEO In The Desert In Clever New “Data Drought” Ad
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Blis Puts Its CEO In The Desert In Clever New “Data Drought” Ad

Ever since Google first announced it would be getting rid of third-party cookies on Chrome, digital advertising businesses have been actively sharing their plans for life after cookies. And now programmatic advertising company Blis might have come up with the most creative way to get the message across, in a new video which sees company […]

Agency Icon Sweeps The SABRE Awards
  • Marketing
  • Media

Agency Icon Sweeps The SABRE Awards

Integrated Melbourne agency Icon has taken top honours in the 2021 SABRE Awards, winning the coveted Australasian Consultancy of the Year for 2021 along with a host of category and craft awards. Icon led a large field of Australian agencies with a total of three major and seven minor awards, including gold in the cause-related […]

Former Agency Execs Launch Car Service Summon
  • Marketing
  • Media

Former Agency Execs Launch Car Service Summon

Former agency executives Tim O’Neill and Tim Fouhy have launched the auto technology startup Summon. Australia’s first full e-commerce service for prestige cars. O’Neill and Fouhy both founded Reactive, a digital agency, which was bought by Accenture in 2016. Following the deal, O’Neill and Fouhy ended up leading the company’s digital marketing arm, Accenture Interactive before […]