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.).
Facebook outright stopped allowing links to be shared unlike Google, which struck a deal with media publishers to display their content in a separate tab called Google News Showcase.
Facebook initially did their screening of publishers’ links using a machine learning algorithm. it led to some unwanted mishaps. Thereafter they fixed the issue and restricted news links to be shard across the platform.
After their new policy changes, traffic to Australian news sites within Australia from Facebook links plummeted. Total news traffic to Australian news sites within Australia fell by about 13% after Facebook began limiting link-sharing, per Chartbeat. Interestingly, last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million.
This led to some intense discussions in the Aussie Senate. On Monday, the government released four amendments to the media code. The amendments basically say that the new code, which is still expected to pass, may not apply to Facebook if it can broker enough deals with publishers. The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and communications minister Paul Fletcher announced on Tuesday a compromise had been reached at the 11th hour as the legislation was being debated in the Senate.
“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,”
“We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days,”Campbell Brown, Facebook’s VP of news
This shows the extent to which tech companies have the power to influence our lives. for the couple of days it stopped the sharing of news links, traffic to news sites were down 13%! that’s quite huge considering the time period taken.