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Facebook's message to media industry is clear: don't rely on us

3 2 0
23.02.2021

Facebook and Google could not have reacted more differently to Australia’s move to make them pay for news content. They both started from combative positions, but as the new media code drew closer to reality, Google lowered its fists, while Facebook went straight for the head.

Facebook’s dramatic use of its might to try coerce a government – it reversed its news ban in Australia on Tuesday after obtaining a few last-minute concessions – only reinforce growing concerns that the social media giant is too big, too powerful and needs to be reined in. Given several countries have signalled pursuing similar legislation, the global chain reaction of regulation Facebook sought to fend off might actually have been accelerated courtesy of its abrupt behaviour in Australia.

But the reactions from Google and Facebook to Australia’s looming media code – Google has reached deals with numerous Australian media companies, including Guardian Australia – aren’t so surprising when one considers recent trends, and Facebook’s past behaviour.

Facebook has gone nuclear before – in 2018, when it decided overnight to change its algorithm to deprioritise news content in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. That sent referral traffic to media publishers plummeting, in Slate’s case by 87%. It also forced the closure of then-millennial-favourite Mic (and the loss of over 100 jobs).

Facebook sent its message to the media industry back then - no longer prioritising news, now prioritising friends........

© The Guardian


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