Australia is in the process of passing a new law that would force social media companies to pay the publishers for the links and headlines users share. Almost certain to pass, Google and Facebook have taken opposite paths in response to this change. Google has chosen to skirt the law by striking deals with various Australian news publishers, most notably Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp to pay for their content. Facebook, meanwhile, has chosen the opposite tack: ban publishers and people from sharing Australian and international content. It will also block links to Australian publishers for users around the globe.
Restricting news in Facebook feeds cuts far less into its profits than Google’s model and has the added benefit of potentially de-politicizing Facebook newsfeeds, something that Facebook has been wanting to do anyway. Google can’t very well restrict users from using its engine in the same way. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this develops. Facebook relies on interaction in a big way and reducing that content will just decrease user activity. I’d love it if Facebook were just a connection and messaging service, but somehow I don’t think that quite pays the bills over there.
Facebook’s move, however, gives lie to the constant claims that they can’t do anything about hate speech on their platform. They banned news content for an entire continent. When the Rohingan Genocide was gearing up and people were saying, hey, maybe Facebook should do something about the violent rhetoric being thrown around what did Facebook do? Nothing. How long did Facebook stall on doing anything about White Nationalists, Nazis, and General Accelerationists sharing content on their platform? Too damn long.
The move is also blocking critical information about the Pandemic from the Australian government.
All because they were fucking with the money.
I wish people didn’t feel like they needed to rely on social media to get their news. Unfortunately, this is the world that giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have created. They must take responsibility if they want to continue to be arbiters of what is news and what is relevant.
Welcome to Thursday! Please be excellent to each other in the comments. The Mayor McSquirrel Rule remains in effect. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, please continue to maintain social distancing measures, wear masks in public areas, and practices sanitation policies as circumstances dictate.