Google, Facebook and Australia

Background

For some time now, the Australian government has been formulating the News Media Bargaining Code. The code is intended to give Australia’s media industry the right to seek direct payment from Google and Facebook for letting them display links to their works. Its like the way you write a book and let a publishing company publish it. In this scenario, you’re the Aussie media industry and the publishing company would be the tech companies. You being the creator of the work, deserve a payment (in the form of royalty for books). This is what the media industry has been after.

As per the website of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission(ACCC), ” On 20 April 2020, the Australian Government asked the ACCC to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook. ”

Both the companies responded differently.

Facebook

Facebook decided to restrict users in Australia from sharing or viewing news links. The company disclosed that just 4% of the content in Australian users’ feeds was news.

 “Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content,”….

“On the other hand, publishers willingly choose to post news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences and increase advertising revenue.”

William Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand

Rather than building a blacklist of news sites to restrict, Facebook tried using its machine learning systems to identify news publishers, this led to other problems. Government pages were taken down!. Facebook said government pages should not be hit by the changes. A spokesperson said any inadvertently impacted pages would be fixed.

“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Google

Google initially threatened to remove search from Australia. Because, unlike Facebook, Google couldn’t just remove the links to news stories as it would possibly break the search engine in Australia, and allow its rivals to take over(mainly Microsoft). So it proposed the idea of Google News Showcase, a tab within Google News that contains licensed content from official partners.

Google is building on our long-term support with an initial $1 billion investment in partnerships with news publishers and the future of news.

Google News Showcase is a new product that will benefit both publishers and readers: It features the editorial curation of award-winning newsrooms to give readers more insight on the stories that matter, and in the process, helps publishers develop deeper relationships with their audiences.

We’ve signed partnerships for News Showcase with nearly 200 leading publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

Sundar Pichai
CEO of Google and Alphabet

Microsoft

Microsoft Endorsed Aussie govt proposal on the bargaining code. It chimed in on Google’s threat to leave Australia. In a blog post, Brad Smith – President, Microsoft wrote: –

At Microsoft, we started 2020 by listing our policy priorities and saying that “technology needs to give the news business a boost.” In October, we launched a new initiative to invest in and support local news and, through Microsoft News, we have been sharing a large portion of revenue with news publishers. In the hunt for better ideas, Google’s threat to boycott an entire country got our attention.

Satya Nadella and I reached out to Prime Minister Morrison. It was an opportunity to combine good business with a good cause and, as we explained, even if Google wanted to leave Australia, we would stay.

Our endorsement of Australia’s approach has had immediate impact. Within 24 hours, Google was on the phone with the Prime Minister, saying they didn’t really want to leave the country after all. And the link on Google’s search page with its threat to leave? It disappeared overnight.

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Shreesha S
Shreesha writes about Business, Finance and Tech for The Snippets Journal. He is also the Founder and Head of Content Development.
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One comment

  1. […] Recently, Facebook announced that they would stop users to share news links of Australian publications in accordance with the News Media Bargaining Code – an Aussie law seeking payment from tech giants for allowing to share the works of news publications(more here.). […]

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