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What Joy, Facebook Bans Australian News

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Or even, Facebook bans news in Australia.

The background here is that the Australian news outlets are guilty of cakeism. They say that they spend lots of money to produce news – they’re right so far. People post that to Facebook, or Facebook does, and the news producers thus get traffic. Also true. But Facebook makes money from showing ads to the people who get their news on – not just click through from – Facebook. Therefore the news producers should be paid by Facebook.

To which the correct answer is if Facebook thinks it’s worth paying the copyright fee then why the hell not? And if it doesn’t then what the hell? Which is where the cakeism because at this point the new Australian law insists that Facebook must pay and also everyone thinks that Facebook must run the news. To which Facebook has said, well, no:

The Australian government has been blindsided by Facebook suddenly blocking all news on the platform in Australia but says the “heavy-handed” move will not stop parliament from passing landmark laws to force tech giants to pay for journalism.

Australians woke up on Thursday to discover they couldn’t view or share news on the social network after Facebook blocked the content in an escalation of a row over whether it should have to pay media companies for displaying their content.

Think on what the demand is. The supermarket stocks steak. It applies a price to it. The demand now is that even if I don’t want any steak I must still buy it at the price set by the supermarket. Facebook must buy the news.

It’s a Guardian piece that gives us the components of our argument against this:

In the middle of a global pandemic and on the back of an announcement that it will ban fake news about vaccines, Facebook on Thursday announced that it is stopping Australians from sharing or viewing any real news in Australia.

The dramatic move comes as Australia is about to pass legislation that would force Facebook to negotiate fair payment for news content. Facebook previously warned that it would respond in this way and, unlike Google, has not announced its own deals with media organisations.

It is prepared to abandon the main source of fact-checked and accurate information on its platform to avoid falling under the news media bargaining code.

Well, to the extent that people believe what’s printed in the newspapers…..

The news media industry will suffer as a result of this: it is heavily reliant on referral traffic from Facebook.

Ah, right, so the news industry benefits from Facebook then. Good we’ve got that as a clear statement.

Facebook is shooting itself in the foot.

In deciding to remove the main source of fact-checked and accurate information on its platform, it has ensured that its product is suddenly less valuable.

Less valuable to whom? That’s the important question.

Sure, news on Facebook has a value to Facebook. The question is, what is that value? The only way to know what a value is is to test peoples’ willingness to pay it. A refusal to buy indicates that it’s not a value offer. Is Facebook buying? Then the price being charged is above its own decision on value.

And that’s it, isn’t it? We don’t go around forcing people to buy stuff after all.

At the end of all of this there is though the one good suggestion:

It is not going to be the platform that Australians can rely upon during an emergency, or to keep abreast of what is happening.

We are not going to be able to share news and we are not going to be able to access it – even from some government organisations, if Thursday is anything to go by. We will have to find alternative platforms and methods to keep informed.

We’ve already go that. Called newspaper websites. So, problem solved, we can all go home now, right?

Now go back to the beginning and think through all of this again. The demand is that Facebook must carry Oz news. Facebook must also pay for Oz news. At a price decided upon by government and the producers of news. Also, that if Facebook doesn’t like the price then it shouldn’t withdraw from presenting the news.

Is it any wonder that Facebook has told them all to bugger off?

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expunct

in British English
expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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