Facebook’s support for smart digital news regulation in Australia
Since 2017, Facebook has engaged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and proposed regulatory frameworks that would give news organisations, the Australian Government and the Australian public confidence in Facebook's commitment and ongoing investment in the Australian news ecosystem.
Update on February 24, 2021 at 9:30AM AEDST: We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week. We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers. After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them. As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days.
Facebook’s engagement on news and media reform in Australia
Facebook has long worked towards open, fair rules that would allow news publishers and digital platforms to continue building on existing commercial arrangements and provide certainty on new and existing investments in the news industry.
For the last four years, and in recent months, Facebook has been actively engaging in discussions with the Australian Government to find a workable solution that enables innovation and collaboration between digital platforms and news organisations going forward.
We’ve consistently outlined our core concerns with the proposed law and provided solutions to the government that recognise the technical and commercial realities of how publishers use Facebook and the value we provide to them. While the government has made some changes, unfortunately the proposed law still fails to address our principal concerns.
We have worked to show the government and the ACCC information about how our platforms work, how publishers receive value from our services and how we currently invest and create news products to help news organisations in Australia.
This allows them to sell more subscriptions and advertising. In fact, last year, we sent 5.1 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge – additional traffic worth an estimated A$407 million to Australian publishers.
And Facebook has directly invested millions of dollars in deals with Australian publishers since 2017 and we announced our intention to expand these existing multi-million dollar deals which would support small to large news publishers.
Unfortunately, the Australian Government has chosen to pursue disproportionate law and we will now prioritise these investments in other countries.
The changes to news content change will not impact the use of Facebook for the vast majority of Australians. The millions of Australians who use our services to connect with friends and family and to join Groups or follow Pages of interest. To the hundreds of thousands of small businesses, who -- in response to the bushfires and COVID19 -- are increasingly using digital platforms to connect with customers and generate revenue. Our services will not change.
We hope that in the future the Australian Government will be willing to make changes so the proposed law could be workable, recognise the value we already provide and help us to strengthen our partnerships with publishers.
Our work with news organisations in Australia
Since 2017, when we launched the Facebook Journalism Project we have built programs, training, and partnerships that support the news industry. In Australia, this has included investing millions through video revenue opportunities, content agreements, reader revenue programs and relief grants. These tools and investments were developed to help publishers address the industry’s core business challenges, including reaching new audiences and monetising their content.
Our commitment to the global news industry remains unchanged and you can read more about this here.