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For once I actually like something Facebook has done

Facebook unfriends Australia: news sites go dark in content row – for once I actually like something Facebook has done! 🤣

22 comments to For once I actually like something Facebook has done

  • As a friend of mine put it:

    Dear Australian Media Companies,

    This is to congratulate you on your recent legislative success in forcing upstart competitors with a better online business model to subsidize you, thereby sparing you the difficulties of adapting to a new market.

    When technology disrupted our business model, some of us were able to adapt to customer needs, providing specialized options at a higher profit margin or by changing our business models to better fit the new markets. Others of us were bought out by people who could steer us toward remaining relevant, and some of us closed down entirely.

    You, however, have better lobbyists than we did. Congratulations.

    Sincerely, the Australian Buggy Whip and Horse-Carriage Association.

    However, I think the stunt is going to backfire on facebook, which is also something that I’m absolutely fine with. It took me no more than a few seconds today to verify that running an Australian news story through archive.is (or equivalent) meant that it didn’t get blocked. And meanwhile it seems that FB has been remarkably incapable of figuring out what is a news site and what is something else, like a hospital website. In fact the archive of the SMH report on this was exactly what I used to test the blocking – https://archive.is/C9a9G

  • They both get to lose. Win/win.

  • APL

    This is obviously extortion.

    Australia: Obey Australian laws if you want to conduct your ( identity theft ) business in Australia.

    Facebook: No, Australia, we’re going to try to blackmail your government by turning your citizens against it.

    Facebook: China, your genocidal policies against the Uyghurs are OK by us. And the Tibetians, they can go **** themselves too, ‘coz that’s just Chinese cultural expression.

  • So the point here being “Is Facebook prepared to jeopardise it’s entire Australian operation (and the income thereof) because they won’t pay the Danegeld”? The answer seems to be a “Yes” for Facebook, whereas it was a “No” for Google.

    Maybe Google sees this as simply the cost of doing business in Australia and the economics of Facebook simply won’t stretch to those costs.

    The fact that this whole farce is about “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” is lost on no-one.

    I hope Facebook sticks to their guns and the Australian government consequently ban’s Facebook, purely on the basis that both need to get a good kicking and no doubt Australian Facebook users will be kicking their government if the ban goes ahead.

    I agree with Longrider. It seems like this is a Lose/Lose for both Facebook and the Australian Government but a massive Win/Win for the rest of us.

    Sometimes I begin to think there isn’t enough popcorn in the world…

  • Tim the Coder

    I’m no fan of FB, but in this case, I think they are obeying the law.

    The Australian politicos have implemented a stupid law, proven not to work in other places where it’s been tried, e.g. Spain.
    OK, democratic government, it is their right to be as stupid as they wish.

    FB are told they cannot publish links to AU news sites without paying for them.
    FB are saying: “OK then, we will comply. We will not publish such links without paying for them, so no links”.

    Is the issue that people want FB to ignore the law?
    No, the issue seems to be that the Oz politicos have been bought by the legacy press to levy a private tax on a competitor, and that competitor has declined to continue with the business so taxed. As indeed they should.

    But I’m with Longrider here: a plague on both of them so win/win for everyone else.

  • JohnK

    No problem if Aussies cannot use Facebook. They can use My Space instead, can’t they?

  • tim

    Can someone explain to me why this is such a big deal?
    Facebook is not a search engine or a an internet browser (like Microsfot Bing/Google chrome/firefox etc) that could block all news on their browsers.
    It’s just stopping people from seeing news in Facebook via posted links-is that correct? Do people get their news via Facebook links? And if they suddenly stop doing this then it’s not exactly stopping news from reaching them is it?
    Having said that I think FB is dumb and should pay the media for their stories, especially if they are acting as editors (as we all know they are when banning stories).
    But really, what’s the big deal?

  • pete

    It’s a private company, it can do what it likes.

    Or does that only apply when the the woke mob want someone cancelled?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Good article here about what utter cunts the Australian government have been, and how their actions are a bad precedent.

  • Sigivald

    No, APL, it’s just refusing to pay money for links to Australian companies.

    (Ain’t it extortion if the government says “you have to pay every time you post a link, or we’ll take it or shut you down”?)

    If China did stuff that cost FB money, FB would drop them like a hot potato, too.

  • bobby b

    Do people get their news via Facebook links?”

    Massively. It’s become the default path, except to people who have developed their own knowledge of sourcing news. (Like most everyone here, probably.)

    I’d say “good for Australia, enforcing IP law and disallowing for the theft of what the Oz writers wrote”, but I’m confused – doesn’t FB merely link to the offended news site, sending clicks their way? Or do they somehow appropriate the content and keep the readers in-house, thus providing the Aussie content to readers without benefiting the Aussie writers at all?

  • Can someone explain to me why this is such a big deal?

    The end of the ability to freely point at news articles does not strike you as a big deal? Seriously?

    Having said that I think FB is dumb and should pay the media for their stories

    So how about Samizdata & the gazillion other similar sites? Should we have to pay people to link to their site in some critique? I assure you I am not going to. Hell, should I be demanding they pay me for steering traffic in their direction?

  • bobby b

    Okay, PdH’s last comment sort of answered my question at 5:55 above.

    So the next question:

    Presumably, when I click on a news story at the Oz News, they get a penny from their ad process.

    If I instead click on that same story through FB, who gets that penny?

    If the answer is, the Oz News still gets their penny, then I don’t see their problem. If FB gets that penny instead, it’s a problem.

    If, somehow, two pennies now get generated through the FB-to-Oz click, and Oz News simply wants part of FB’s penny on top of their own, then it sounds like a tax collector’s mindset.

  • @ bobby b

    If I understand it correctly, the news site would get the penny once someone clicks on their site. Facebook will get revenue from any advertisers on their site. So, yes, I think the two pennies scenario is the correct one. And as Perry says, they are pointing links to other sites that then get the click through, so if anyone is going to pay, it should be the news sites paying FB for those click throughs.

    All that said, I remain happy to see blood on the carpet here.

  • Lemmi

    The Australian government want Facebook to pay news sites for any links that appear on Facebook, but get annoyed when Facebook remove those links. So do the Aus government think Facebook should be forced to carry those links? I don’t like Facebook, but surely they are are entitled to remove the links?

  • Tim the Coder

    FB is private sector.
    Thus, it exists solely to generate tax revenue for the politicians, and other payment flows for the moochers who have bought those politicians.
    As a private sector company, it is allowed no self interest, no scope for decisions, and no flexibility. It will serve the state.

    How easy free enterprise has died.
    Since FB is not an Australian company, they can at least walk away. I hope they do, and all other targets of such parasitism.

    But this is just a popcorn example of what is going on everywhere.
    As an Astra-Zeneca shareholder: Why is Astra-Zeneca making the Covid vaccine available at cost? Who authorised all that shareholder capital to be used to no return?
    Who would risk their money build a power station, when the politicos will tell you when/if you are allowed to sell power, and at what price?
    Texas is just the trial run. Coming to everywhere Real Soon Now.

  • Paul Marks

    The only Australian television news source of value is Sky News Australia.

    But that is better than Britain – where NONE of the television or radio news sources are of value.

  • Dr. Caligari

    I have never liked Facebook more than I do now.
    Finally comes rule and consistency.

  • bobby b

    This appears to be another one of those “can’t they both lose, please?” situations.

  • bobby b

    New wrinkle (for me, at least.)

    FB puts the front page of an article up so that people can read it. There is no need to click through to the site to get the full article – the vast majority of FB readers simply read the opening blurb. If I’m a reporter, I see that 30 million people just read my writing without paying me for it.

    Which means, to me, that they are appropriating the sites’ IP. It begins to sound more like the “if we steal their music files, it will only increase their audience!” argument, which I think blows. (Sorry, Americanism for “it’s not a good thing.”)

  • Fred the Fourth

    I’ve read a dozen articles on the proposed law, and this thread, and I STILL don’t understand the payments flow issues or the IP issues.
    The best info I got was that facebook was not merely hosting links to a news co. website, but was sucking up some fraction of the actual content and hosting it themselves. BUT it was not clear if the news sites intended for that, by design, or not.
    But, I do hope to see ankle-deep blood from both sides.

  • bobby b

    “I’ve read a dozen articles on the proposed law, and this thread, and I STILL don’t understand the payments flow issues or the IP issues.”

    As best I can tell, neither side wants these issues to be understood.

    I would think that, once one knows the equities involved, it will be apparent who is stealing from whom. But neither side seems eager for us to understand. My inner cynic tells me this is because it’s US they’re both stealing from. (Which is confusing as well, as I’ve sent neither a dime.)

    So, yes, can’t they please both lose?