Tech

Facebook’s news dispute with Australia is just the beginning

Facebook Of a corporation

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The battle with publishers and regulators around the world over how social media giants deal with news never ends. Reach an agreement this week Pay for content with the Australian Government.

Facebook reached an agreement with the Australian government on Tuesday to restore news content to the platform, promising other political leaders to increase scrutiny of tech giants, and the press also trading with the company. We are planning to put pressure on it to reduce it. This issue also raises the question of which publishers should be paid for news content, and some.

The agreement between Facebook and Australia provides a way for publishers to avoid paying for news content as long as Facebook is working to reach an agreement with the publisher on its own.

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Vice President of Global News Partnerships, said: “Thanks to the government for giving us the flexibility to proceed with transactions with publishers, 30 days in advance of the designation. Facebook negotiations with individual Australian publishers cannot satisfy the government. If so, the company can re-impose a news ban instead of being forced to comply with the terms of the new law for setting up payments.

“I hope that step isn’t necessary,” Brown said.

The envisioned compromise replaces Facebook’s voluntary payments to “partner” news outlets for news tab products for mobile users in the United States and other countries.

The payments Facebook has made so far aren’t too expensive for the company. The company’s advertising business generated record $ 86 billion in revenue last year. When Facebook announced last week that it would remove news from its Australian platform, it said news content would make up only 4% of what appears in the main news feed.

Facebook has blocked Australians from viewing or sharing news articles as lawmakers discussed a bill that would force social media companies to pay for content. The law is receiving worldwide attention and may provide models for other countries.Photo: Joshua Delson / Getty Images

The news publisher is Facebook

Alphabet Of a corporation

Delivered by Google. Hours after Facebook decided to stop sharing news in Australia, Australian news publishers saw a 20% reduction in traffic from readers outside Australia, data from analysis firm Chartbeat showed.

According to a Pew Research Fall 2020 survey, about 36% of Americans get news from Facebook, while 23% get news from Alphabet’s YouTube.

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Eric Ross, an analyst at Cassend Securities, said that if Facebook had to pay for news content on a global basis, the cost would be significant. “When you suddenly have to pay for something that was free, the margin disappears,” he said.

“”
Finally, the value of credible journalism has become much more appreciated.


— USA Today Publisher Maribel Perez Wasworth

The turmoil between Facebook and Australian news providers came at the same time, with Google facing antitrust proceedings in the United States and regulatory oversight elsewhere. Australia and other countries seeking to pay for news content on behalf of publishers claim that Facebook is abusing market power in an attempt to minimize or avoid such costs. A 2019 Australia Report Large platforms were seen as threatening not only emerging social media companies, but advertisers and the news industry as a whole.

Both Facebook and Google say their platform helps with journalism. As Facebook itself points out, publishers around the world are already trying to maximize the attention their work receives on social media without promising compensation.

A U.S. news publisher suggests that Facebook’s controversy in Australia has shown a renewed interest in paying publishers after social media companies were previously reluctant to do so. Said.

“We are at a turning point,” said Maribel Perezwasworth, USA Today’s publisher.

Ganet Co., Ltd.

, America’s largest newspaper chain “The value of credible journalism has finally been appreciated.”

USA Today participates in the Facebook News tab offered in the United States through a license agreement.

News Corporation,

The owner of The Wall Street Journal has a commercial contract to provide news through Facebook. Last week, the company signed a three-year contract with Google to license content from publications and create new products for the Google platform.

According to Bernstein analyst Mark Schmlick, Australia’s efforts could encourage non-traditional media such as independent journalists to publish articles on writing platforms like Medium to demand payment. .. “The concern is what happens if the media conglomerate doesn’t draw the line … that’s the way Facebook doesn’t want to go,” he said.

Canada’s Minister of Cultural Policy, Steven Guilbeault, said earlier this month that Australian officials enacted similar rules for counterparts in Canada, Germany, France and Finland and technology platforms to pay news publishers. He said he had talked about what he was doing, adding that the coalition of countries could expand. over time.

Gilbo said he was encouraged by progress in Australia and plans to introduce measures this spring with the support of stakeholders associated with global allies. On Monday, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison about potential cooperation in pursuing regulation of online platforms, according to a summary of the conversation released by Mr. Trudeau’s office. talked.

“We need to find sustainable solutions for news publishers, digital platforms big and small, and the soundness of democracy,” Gilbo said.

The dispute over payments to the press has been boiled and sometimes boiled in Europe for over a decade.New European Union Copyright law passed in 2019 Antitrust involvement of the news media, especially by creating new rights management for the press against the use of publications on the Internet by high-tech companies, except in the case of very short excerpts and hyperlinks. Has given a new influence to.

In France, the only country to date to enforce EU law, Google signed a license agreement for news showcase products with several publications, including Lemond, last November.The agreement came later French court reaffirmed the order From antitrust regulators in countries where Google has to negotiate.

Google said it has signed news showcase agreements with more than 500 publications in 12 countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.Google Promised $ 1 billion last October It took more than three years for such a license agreement, but did not reveal how much of that amount was spent on Tuesday.

“We have hundreds of partnerships with news publishers of all sizes and are one of the largest funders of journalism,” said a Google spokeswoman.

According to Facebook, posting articles on the platform by publications is licensed under French law and remains unchanged. The company currently only displays links, not rich previews, when users post news articles from French publications, unless the publication gives Facebook explicit permission.

A Facebook spokesman said the company is in talks to launch Facebook News products in France and Germany. It pays the article license fee from the press. The product was launched in the UK last month and featured articles from publications such as the Guardian.

Facebook has previously stated that it has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in publications through a variety of tools for advertising and subscriptions.

Write to Jeff Howitz Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com And Sarah E. Needleman sarah.needleman@wsj.com

Correction and amplification
Facebook made a record $ 86 billion in revenue last year. Earlier versions of this article mistakenly stated that Facebook generated $ 70.7 billion in revenue. (Corrected on February 23)

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Facebook’s news dispute with Australia is just the beginning

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