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Many expect this ban to have disastrous effects on Australian civic society, especially in a time when well researched, fact-checked content is so needed. Titles like marie claire Australia do not exist without our thoughtful, engaged readership and we’re hopeful that the loyalty of our readers will endure despite this unwarranted handicapping.
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Regardless of what Facebook chooses to do with regard to the news ban, we’ll continue to publish quality reporting, and of course, celebrate style and substance.
Why did Facebook ban Australian news?
The Facebook Australian news ban came as a knee-jerk retaliation against the Australian government. The government has been pursuing introducing laws that would see Facebook have to pay Australian publishers and journalism outlets revenue for news content that appeared on the social media platform.
The full picture behind this is complicated. The pandemic has impacted many publishers revenue, and last year saw a number of iconic Australian magazines sadly shuttering and the collateral damage from this latest blow is still unfolding.
That said, it’s worth noting that this revenue deal would likely have only benefitted the most established commercial institutions. Many Indigenous news outlets and smaller advocacy groups have been silenced in the ban. First Nations Media Australia is the leading body for Indigenous non-profit media. Per a release, they estimate about half of their members have been affected.
"We are outraged that access to First Nations voices has been limited in this way," chair Dot West said. "First Nations media services are not the same as commercial outlets and should not be negatively impacted by an industry-wide response to corporate interests," she continued in the statement.
The impact of the ban on organisations and advocacy groups that never stood to gain from the revenue law is both an indicator of the mishandling of this by the Morrison government, as well as revealing of the hypocrisy of Facebook. If nothing else, this swift blanket ban makes it extremely clear that Facebook could always have done something about the fake news, conspiracy theories and political extremism that runs rampant on their platform. They simply chose not to.
Tech and democracy journalists have also posed pertinent questions about the model of publishing and media regulation that the introduction of the law would even have supported. As Platformer’s Casy Newtown mused, there are other options. Australia could instead, for example, “pursue a bargaining code that requires big media conglomerates to create and support jobs in journalism, rather than simply accept tens of millions of dollars and spend them however they like—or just return it to shareholders.”
How long will the Facebook news ban last?
At this stage, much is still uncertain. Treasurer John Frydenberg has said that he’s had “constructive discussion” with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. This stands in stark contrast to information shared by a Facebook news executive in 2018 that Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about news publishers and that Facebook was prepared to let them die if they didn’t cooperate.
We will, as always, keep you updated.