Why are the media the losers with the Facebook boycott?

Recently a new problem has erupted for Facebook with users of this and other social platforms, the above due to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg’s social network prohibited users in the Australian region from being able to share or post links to news in that part of the world. . In social networks there are many messages that turned the #DeleteFacebook label into a trend not only in Australia, but from all over the world, including Mexico, to highlight the problems and recent actions of the platform that, according to the most recent data published in Statista groups to more than 2.7 billion monthly active users today.

As can be seen from the previous publications, users report that there is censorship by the company because it does not allow users to publish news information or that, in other words, it is denying them access to information. However, before assuming that it is censorship as such, it is undoubtedly important to know the context of this measure implemented by Facebook in order to have a better understanding of the real problem and the actions that are being taken in this regard from all parties involved. From Facebook’s perspective, its actions make sense, although in the end those who will end up losing the most seem to be the media and sites behind the news that cannot now be published.

Facebook’s legal battle

As we recently reported on our site, the Australian Government is close to launching a bill through which, in its own words, it seeks to establish a mandatory code of conduct to help support the sustainability of the sector. of Australia’s media outlets by addressing bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms (spaces like Google and Facebook) and news businesses (the media). In other words, as various media have highlighted, it is intended that giants such as those mentioned above pay the media for sharing the news content they generate on their respective platforms or portals. Although for Facebook and Google the problem is not that it demands a payment from them, since in fact they already have initiatives with which they pay back, what has caused conflict is that they seek to define rates and that an independent regulator can decide whether the agreements reached they are fair in order to ensure that these big companies do not use their power to dictate terms (which is not far-fetched).

From the perspective of technology firms, this action would even represent a threat to the functioning of the Internet as we know it. So, in response to the Australian Government, Facebook made the decision to restrict people and publishers, both local and international, in Australia, the ability to share and view news content from its platform.

The Facebook explanation

According to what is published in the blog of the social network, the law they have is misinterpreted the relationship between Facebook and the editors or publishers that use it to share their news content. Even Facebook’s own manager for the region stressed that the legislation intends to penalize the platform for content that it neither took nor requested, since people and the media publish voluntarily. In this sense, it can be understood that with the measure, those who are really losing are the media, as this channel for the distribution of its content has been closed (at least temporarily until now).

Abundant in the details shared by the social network, for them the law completely ignores the realities of the relationship they have with the media, as we mentioned above, unlike what happens on other platforms, such as Google, where the content is involuntarily indexed, on Facebook publishers voluntarily choose to post their news on the social platform as this allows them to meet various objectives that suit their interests as a business, for example, is to sell more subscriptions if they have them, to grow their audiences (considering the number of active users Facebook has) and even increase your advertising revenue.

For Facebook, the exchange they have with the media has always been in favor of the latter, since only last year more than 5 billion free references to Australian media were generated from its platform, which is equivalent to about 407 million dollars Australians. It can even be said that for Facebook, having the media in its space does not represent many benefits beyond the content they generate and is consumed directly in its application or web portal since the presence of the media can make its users leave the platform and go navigate to media sites and what every social network seeks is to keep people there. Even various adjustments that he has made to his algorithm have represented a challenge for the media, leading them to consider his presence in this space, the clearest case is that of the 2018 adjustment where he decided to give more weight to publications and interactions between friends , acquaintances and relatives before to page posts.

However, for the social network, the law seems to emphasize that the regulator has to assume all the time that the exchange of value is in favor of Facebook and this is what worries it.

With this context, it is then that the question arises as to whether the actions of this firm are being misinterpreted due to its recent actions with the news content in Australia and in response to a law that does not seem to understand how the existing relationship works.

Another worrying point is that what is currently happening in the region is being supervised by others to implement similar measures, for example, in Europe it is analyzed whether the system will be effective and can be replicated, while various legislators have already seen the proposal favorably. of the Australian Government.

Meanwhile, the problem and the blocking of news will persist and those who are losing are the media and the people because for Facebook the profits are minimal, its main source of income continues to be advertising, and to say from its own data, less than 4 percent of the content that users see on your platform feed is news. The real impact would be felt if more countries take similar measures, because there they would see changes in their numbers.

Finally, with respect to people, another problem that is being generated in a certain way is the limitation of access to information from reliable and serious sources in Australia, although people can continue to consult the news through many other digital channels beyond Facebook .