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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Facebook Dumps News Deals in Australia

In its inexorable “Who? Us?” march toward the next rich vein of audience engagement to be bled dry, Facebook parent company Meta has announced it will be dumping its dedicated Facebook News tab in the United States and Australia, and not seek to renew deals for “traditional” news content.

Under the bland heading “An Update on Facebook News”, the company announced, “In early April 2024, we will deprecate Facebook News – a dedicated tab in the bookmarks section on Facebook that spotlights news – in the US and Australia. This follows our September 2023 announcement that we deprecated Facebook News in the UK, France and Germany last year.

“This is part of an ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most. As a company, we have to focus our time and resources on things people tell us they want to see more of on the platform, including short form video.

“The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the U.S. has dropped by over 80% last year. We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content — they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities, passions and interests. As we previously shared in 2023, news makes up less than 3% of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, and is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people.

“The changes affecting the Facebook News feature will not otherwise impact Meta’s products and services in these countries. People will still be able to view links to news articles on Facebook. News publishers will continue to have access to their Facebook accounts and Pages, where they can post links to their stories and direct people to their websites, in the same way any other individual or organization can. News organizations can also still leverage products like Reels and our ads system to reach broader audiences and drive people to their website, where they keep 100% of the revenue derived from outbound links on Facebook.

“While we’ll be deprecating Facebook News in these countries, this announcement does not impact the terms under our existing Facebook News agreements with publishers in Australia, France and Germany. These deals have already expired in the US and the UK. Additionally, to ensure that we continue to invest in products and services that drive user engagement, we will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”


The announcement by Meta that it will not be renewing any of the deals struck with Australian media companies for use of news content on its platforms should be met with swift action by Government, according to Free TV Australia.

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said, “The announcement from Meta that it will no longer pay for the use of Australian news content on Facebook is disappointing but unsurprising. We call on the Government to immediately designate all Meta platforms – Facebook, Instagram and Reels – under the News Media Bargaining Code, and require it to pay a fair price for the news content shared widely on its platforms. Meta does not employ any Australians to produce news but captures significant value from the sharing of trusted news content as part of its service offering.

“There has never been a more important time for news media businesses to receive fair remuneration for their trusted news content that is relied upon by all Australians. The ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry Report laid bare the unprecedented levels of market dominance by Facebook and the importance for sustainable local news providers of being fairly remunerated for their content on these platforms. The News Media Bargaining Code legislation already gives the Government the power to act on this important issue and it should do by designating Facebook without delay.”

Nine CEO Mike Sneesby, added: “Meta’s decision does not recognise the significant and increasing value of Nine’s journalism, unique content and brands to its platforms.

“We believe the News Media Bargaining Code provides an appropriate framework for a fair value exchange between companies. Regardless of the Meta announcement, the value created on their platform from the use of Nine’s IP is both unquestionable and growing and we strongly believe Meta should negotiate in good faith around the fair compensation for that value exchange.

“We will continue to robustly advocate that these deals are in the national interest and the arguments that led to the code in the first place remain as strong as ever.”


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