Facebook Blocks News Content in Australia – Consequences & Workarounds

https://digitalcitizen.ca/category/writing/As of Thursday morning in Australia, Facebook has blocked all news content from around the world to be shared on its social media platform! There was an Australian law set to go into effect where Facebook, and other social media platforms, would have to pay fees to news publishers for news content shared on their platforms, either in deals directly with the publishers, or directly to the Australian government. Google has complied, as described in this BBC article with Robert Murdoch’s News Corporation, among others. Facebook, meanwhile, has opted to go the other way, which, as far as I’m concerned, is bad news for Facebook unless it changes because I don’t think it’s going to win this one… and this could be the first step in likely many, to Facebook’s demise. I’m not saying that demise will happen fast or anything, as they’ll go down fighting, but if they stick to this mentality, they’ll be going down because unlike other big tech giants, they don’t have a lot of other revenue sources than advertising. That was partly why I proposed Apple build its own privacy-enhanced social media platform, because they have other revenue streams and can “starve out” Facebook. But beyond all that, here are some other consequences to Facebook’s decision.


Inconvenience for responsibility

Sure, it’s not convenient to have to get some news, and share it with others outside of Facebook if that’s where you get it. However, it’s not that hard to add a few bookmarks to your phone or browser, or gather the news elsewhere in feeds. A little set-up time is all it takes, about the same time as a decent amount of grumbling that a lot of people will be doing should it happen to them, but you’ll also get to procure your news sources. That may mean some will set up their own echo chambers and may not see news from other sites, but I’m tending to think those people have already weeded out people sharing links from opposing view sites. And they still can see text statuses as mentioned below.

I know it doesn’t take a lot of time to set up some news outlet bookmarks or aggregation on other platforms, because this is exactly what I do to get my news. I prefer to browse the news on my own terms and times rather than having them delivered to me by Facebook pages in my newsfeed (or other social media platforms) when I’m not looking to “doomscroll”. Of course, I get some stories that “leak through” from others posting, usually negative stories, but I can tell you I won’t miss those and would love it if I didn’t have to see any news at all on my Facebook feed.

That said regarding seeing “news” on Facebook feed, I’ll be the first to admit I love to share a good article from a news site, like the BBC, on things other than “news” like documentary style articles on art, lifestyle, podcast links, etc. They are mostly or all “news”, though, so I will miss that. However, I won’t miss it so much that I wouldn’t change my position to support the Australian model that I hope others in the world will adopt. But there are many other ways of sharing, just a bit more inconveniently.


Sharing by “text” status or URLs

If you can’t link news to a Facebook status, and you get it elsewhere, you can easily share it by text in a status. Think of it as sending a text to the world or your Facebook circle. Just say something like “Facebook blocks news content in Australia (BBC)” to name your source so people can Google if there were no URLs allowed at all.

I’m not sure if Facebook will let you post a URL without a link to it, but if they did, just post the URL with the status, or as the first comment if you want to keep the status line “clean” looking. Others can copy the URL and paste it into a browser and that’s that. A little inconvenient, but not a big deal.


Way to go Australia!

I’ve been waiting for when this rule comes into effect to see what Facebook was going to do, excited an important country with some leverage was taking this step. For that, hats off to you, Australia! Stand your ground, mates!


Facebook disappointment continuing

Facebook was a social media platform I hung some hope on when it came out. They had so much potential, and it looked for a while they might actually realize it. However, over time, they’ve been nothing but a disappointment, especially Mark Zuckerberg. I had even held out hope that someone with more emotional intelligence like Sheryl Sandberg might turn him and their board and such around, but alas, I think with this move, I’m just going to let it go. I’ve been reducing my use over the past few years, posting only once every week or so these days. I’m only keeping it as a means to contact some weak relationships without getting their email or number. This will only deter it more and maybe urge me to make that final move to get those few emails and numbers and either get off Facebook all together, or only going back in when I need another email or number. We’ll see.

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