Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[dupe] Facebook to restore news pages in Australia (bbc.com)
49 points by frob 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 71 comments





Other article posted a little before this one:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26233897


"The tech giant drew a wide backlash from Australian users."

This is patently false, the only evidence of backlash has been from reports in mass media, we were all loving the new newsless Facebook.

On this particular issue Facebook is clearly in the right, it is straight up insane to expect them to pay for links to news that users choose to share.


> This is patently false, the only evidence of backlash has been from reports in mass media, we were all loving the new newsless Facebook.

I only use facebook for extended family and friends of the family and noted a lot of people pissed off about not being able to share links.


Well that's on Murdoch and his shitty empire

Not quite. You look at any of the posts by politicians and you'd see vast numbers of people lapping up the anti-facebook rhetoric.

The sad part is that it's not entirely unjustified. It's just in this instance Facebook was objectively not being the bad guy, yet there's enough mistrust in the population that it's easy to be told that they (facebook) were in the wrong.


You look at any of the posts by politicians and you'd see vast numbers of people lapping up the anti-facebook rhetoric.

There was already a lot of anti-facebook rhetoric here in Australia as a result of perceived left-wing bias and censorship on Facebook’s part during and after the US election. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed it’s basically the same type of people in both cases – uneducated right-wing anti-vax flat-earthers.


[[ citation needed ]]

It works in both ways. Anectdotal evidence is not quite evidence.


I personally found it really annoying. Facebook is a good means of delivering useful links to people who otherwise not see them. During this stupid fight my ability to connect friends and family with useful resources was ruined. I think this is a bad vs bad fight, but I think facebook deserves more of my ire for this one.

The only thing that annoys me is that some of the articles in Facebook news are behind a paywall

to clarify for all who only read the headline

"Going forward, the government has clarified [Facebook] will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that [Facebook] won't automatically be subject to forced negotiation,"

so it looks like Facebook won in the game of chicken between them and the Australian government.


FB was right on the merits here.

The news has no leverage, they want to shakedown FB for driving traffic to their own sites?

I'm glad FB told them to fuck off.

Meanwhile Google decided to pay Murdoch's extortion fee: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56101859

Google did the wrong thing.


> I'm glad FB told them to fuck off.

Facebook is negotiating deals with media companies. The Australian government got what they wanted.


Well we’ll see what the deal ends up being.

I hope FB’s offer is nothing.

Maybe FB will charge the media for the referral traffic that FB directs to them. That’d be where I’d start negotiations.

This isn’t what the Australia government wanted, they just realized that FB not showing news hurts the news more than it hurts FB.


> I hope FB’s offer is nothing.

That's a futile hope. It won't be nothing.

> This isn’t what the Australia government wanted

Yes it is.

> they just realized that FB not showing news hurts the news more than it hurts FB

No. Facebook has realized that they just strengthened the Australian government's resolve to introduce the legislation, that they increased support for the media bargaining code within Australia, and that they gained Australia the support of governments all over the world.

Facebook has successfully convinced governments that Facebook is a problem that needs to be solved. It was a massive own goal for Facebook. More governments will introduce similar legislation now.


I'm not following - the Australia government can introduce this if they want, FB can just block news on their platform (as they did).

No. Forced arbitration is still a feature of the code.

I’m not sure how that’s relevant?

Yes. Read about the changes:

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/government-agrees-to...

Facebook gained one month's notice when a platform is designated under the code and two months more negotiation time when making a deal. That's all.


> so it looks like Facebook won in the game of chicken between them and the Australian government

From my understanding of the situation, there was no game.

FB didn't give a shit about pulling news from Australia because it was a tiny proportion of their content.

The government/politicians were trying to strong arm FB into coughing up with zero leverage. It was insanely stupid.

Here's FB's post for context: https://about.fb.com/news/2021/02/changes-to-sharing-and-vie...


Why did Google blink when FB didn't then?

Google has much more to lose. It's pretty common to use search engines to look up current events. There are plenty of competitors hungry for market share. Meanwhile, the only people who would care if FB blocked news articles would be people who share them, which is a tiny fraction of users. It's not like you're getting the news for TikTok or Instagram either.

Google actively indexes the news sites and offer present them in its search results.

But on Facebook the news publishers voluntarily share their stories.

That’s the biggest difference in my opinion.


I don't agree. Explicitly permitting Googlebot to continually scour your site for decades—including letting it through the paywalls—also constitutes voluntary sharing of stories.

The distinction is really just a technicality of whether the ongoing relationship is push or pull.


A simple robots.txt is all that was needed. But that wasn’t used by News Corp, so that suggests to me that they were just trying to ride on Google’s coat tails

Google didn't blink. When the government said search was included Google threatened to withdraw search. Search is now excluded [0], and the threat is withdrawn.

Since Google stated it was prepared to share revenue from news.google back in June and now that is all that is happening, I'd say someone else blinked.

[0] https://theconversation.com/this-weeks-changes-are-a-win-for...


Google came to the conclusion that they couldn't legally extricate themselves without pulling out of Australia entirely. Since the bill forced companies to treat the news content in question the same it's all or nothing for removal. Facebook faced losing all news content in Australia, Google faced losing the golden goose in Australia. They had more incentive to come to an agreement.

Google already had a plan for this back in October 2020 (in terms of paying a premium for news). https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/google-news-initiat...

Cowardness.

Despite the Australian Government's big scary words about not backing down last week.

What an embarrassment.


A well fought for and earned humiliation. They went the extra mile.

> What an embarrassment.

I expect nothing less of this government.


Old media saw their traffic stats crater, I think.

There's no way they didn't know that was going to happen, though. I think they probably just miscalculated how the PR reaction would shake out.

I would be interested to know what the net loss in click/ad revenue was over this period

I don't know about revenue, but Chartbeat said a drop in total traffic of 13%

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-media-facebook-...


I think more importantly, the government realized how badly Facebook could hurt their influence in the Asia Pacific region. Without Australian news on Facebook, people in nearby developing countries would be getting their international news from from other countries (china).

Do the people in nearby developing countries speak English? Or Chinese?

Which countries are we talking about?

It seems far more likely to me that people in nearby developing countries will get their international news from locals who follow international news for professional reasons, which would be impacted not at all by whether Australian news links can be shown on Facebook.


>Do the people in nearby developing countries speak English?

In most pacific island, yes. In places like East Timor English it's not uncommon at all, news is also often shared via relatives who live abroad. Do you really think china doesn't have multiple news outlets written in English to promote their power abroad, just look at the South China morning Post.

>It seems far more likely to me that people in nearby developing countries will get their international news from locals who follow international news for professional reason

I'm confused why you would think that? A lot of these countries have specific phone plans which exclude Facebook data and they like a large amount of people get their news on social media.

Here's a few articles on the very subject [0][1]

[0]https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-19/pacific-media-warns-f...

[1]https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/19/facebooks-aust...


>> It seems far more likely to me that people in nearby developing countries will get their international news from locals who follow international news for professional reasons

> I'm confused why you would think that?

Simple; it's true everywhere. Most people do not care about international news; they do not ever seek it out.


Maybe you feel that way because you live in a country with significant independent media and don’t need to rely on international news outlets reporting on news that directly effects you.

It’s not clear what this actually means in practice.

Most news source I searched are reporting small (but logical) tweaks to the law, to the point that it seems Facebook largely conceded and then put out some face saving PR.

In practice the government has achieved their goal of both FB and Google paying for news content. Both have backed down. The total (industry wide) payments seem likely to reach about $200 million AUD.

Further the government’s legislation is going to pass with cross-party support.

Overall the government probably considers this a resounding success.


To clarify, by face saving PR I mean that yes of course Facebook can take down its entire news service going forward. That wasn’t really in doubt.

What doesn’t seem to be the case is that Facebook can discriminate against content from bargaining code participants (companies that ask for money for content).

It seems likely they’ll now follow Google’s path and strike individual deals ahead of the legislation.


I’ve read several reports, they all speak about ‘amendments’ but so far I haven’t found an article that lists what they actually are.

It’s weird. They make this huge media circus for several days, then things change and nobody bothers to explain the new info that changed the situation.


The article is light on details. Do we have an idea of what the text of the amended law will say? I imagine Australians could end up with a law that says "exactly the same as before, except for Facebook" which would be very bad for everyone else.

So far it seems like only press statements have been released.

ABC is reporting some small tweaks to the law (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-23/facebook-reverses-new...)

1. Introduction of a good faith mediation period prior to compulsory arbitration 2. Introduction of a clause requiring the treasurer to consider existing deals before applying the code.

Basically it seems like FB have agreed to pay media companies but with a stronger hand in negotiations.


From all this, Microsoft stance was the worst: using the power of Big Government to attack competition. Shameful.

This is the reason people get frustrated, right here. Having expectations that a for-profit tech company doesn’t behave one. Why wouldn’t they use everything at their disposal to slam the competitors?

When people get tired enough of crappy behavior from other people, regardless of the excuse, people tend to do something about it.

This is why we have sayings like "what goes around comes around."

Business exists to serve humanity, not the other way around. Humans created it to serve human needs. Humans can exist without business. Business doesn't exist without humans.

Historically, the honey bee was revered as a symbol of a civilizing force and the force it symbolized was trade. Trade -- aka business -- is how you make the world better pragmatically. It operates on the idea that both sides gain something of value.

I don't know how or why, but we seem to have collectively forgotten that.


Well, its like in sports: there are some things that you could do to win, but you don't - because you are not scum and you know the game would be worse for all if everybody would do them. It's called fair play.

Facebook had all the leverage here, so I find it really really odd that Zuck caved to Murdoch^WThe Liberal Party.

Related: given the new proposed Australian law, I would love to see Twitter use this against News Corp - a hell of a lot of their articles is just commentary on a few tweets (i.e the actual news source of the story). Twitter should start demanding payment from News Corp because they’re stealing their revenue.


My biggest concern about the proposed laws were that the government wanted publisher’s (i.e News Corp’s) approval of future changes to Google and Facebook’s “algorithms” before they went to production...

How on earth did these two companies even agree to meet let alone completely roll over because they’ve now just let News Corp be part of their future CI/CD pipeline approval process?! :mindblown:


So the news sites all knew exactly how much of their traffic came from Facebook, and they should have known that people’s habits change slowly. What did they expect? They started this game of chicken and didn’t even have the will to wait over a week for user habits to change?

Australian authorities will now introduce further amendments, including a two-month mediation period before government-enforced arbitration kicks in.

Mediation which will now include empirical data from the blackout.

Going dark has meant a bad news cycle for FB but in the long run they now have data to prove it’s FB driving NewsCorp’s revenue and not the other way around.


What I don't understand, please correct me if I'm wrong but don't the journalists, news agencies etc upload their own news content or links to news stories to the Facebook platform? Should they then get paid for that? Anyway, I'm into about day 6 of my feeble attempt to delete my Facebook account.

You are understanding correct. The Australian government wanted Facebook to let news companies post their news on Facebook and Facebook to pay them for doing so. Facebook then decided that they would rather not have the companies posting on fb. This caused a massive loss of profits for the news companies so it looks like the government has backed down.

I didn't delete my FB account. Instead I restricted the permissions to make my profile barely visible and prevent people posting on my wall and then simply stopped using it.

A lot of people are using Facebook as their newsfeed, so I think it's not quite honest to claim that Facebook is not gaining anything from sharing news stories.

Facebook would be a lot less compelling without news.

People used to browse headlines on newspaper sites, then Facebook came and aggregated all the headlines, and "stole" all the visitors of the news sites.

Reporting on stories is a lot of effort (especially local stories where you can't just copy paste some press release), and Facebook wants to put the headlines on their website for free. Publishers should be happy about the exposure!

I understand that publishers are pissed. They are doing the work, but Facebook makes money from the content, and all they get in exchange is a small percentage of people who view a post actually click through to read the full story.


> Facebook would be a lot less compelling without news.

Yet everyone complains here (me included) that Facebook should go back to its roots, and offer news about your friends only


Yes, but the people complaining here are not really Facebooks core audience anymore.

Facebook has basically become a news sharing platform, because that's how they keep people "engaged".

Most people just don't have enough relatives that they can browse baby photos all day. But there's an endless stream of news headlines...


If there’s market value for news then news sellers should stop giving it away for free and starting charging a price.

If press barons instead want to leverage free news to gain power and influence then who cares if the cost of doing so in 2021 is much higher than in 1981?

So what if the emergence of Google et al indirectly pushed up the price of tabloid influence over democracy?


> news sellers should stop giving it away for free and starting charging a price

But that's exactly what they are trying to do? The news stories obviously have a value for Facebook, and the publishers are trying to get them to pay for it.

Radio stations also pay royalties to play music, why shouldn't websites have to pay royalties for content they show in their feeds?


I’m not sure the analogy holds. Radio in its current form is a marketing device for new music and stations get paid by record labels in order to feature new releases.

"Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won't automatically be subject to forced negotiation,"

I bet Google wishes they would have waited a bit longer before negotiating those agreements. It's nice that the government finally caved on the most egregious part of the legislation. Looking at the media response over the past few days has been absolutely shameful. Just about every piece out there completely glosses over the fact that the legislation originally outright forced Google and Facebook to pay and still host content even if a mutual agreement wasn't reached. It was a deal you can't say no to.... legally.


Something that I don't recall seeing discussed anywhere: does anyone else think that news sites having social media sharing links at the head or foot of their articles kind of undermines their case?

The news reporting on the news, this ought to be reliable.

So we're now at a point where Big Tech can overtly strong-arm a nation into changing legislation proposed by their democratically elected government.

Facebook didn't bat an eye before blocking the pages of food banks and emergency service providers in the middle of a pandemic for an entire county, all in service of avoiding a drop in their advertising revenue [1]. That should tell you a lot.

You might not like the proposed laws but Facebook's reckless conduct is indefensible.

If you compare this to Facebook's history in Myanmar, you will find that they have no issue with subsidising the spread of their platform while it is being used to incite a literal genocide [2]. But they draw the line and take swift action when their profits are endangered.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-australia-news-ban-... [2] https://www.wired.com/story/how-facebooks-rise-fueled-chaos-...


I just don't get that viewpoint at all. Removing all news content was one of the two possible outcomes of that law. And the drafters of that law very intentionally made the definition of news content as vague and broad as possible, to maximize the damage and thus minimize the odds of Facebook actually doing it.

If you're outraged that "Facebook did this in the middle of a pandemic", why not be at least as outraged at the government for trying to pass such a law "in the middle of a pandemic"?

Australia: We're going to draft a law that requires Facebook to do X or Y.

Facebook: If those are the options. we're going to do Y.

Australia: You're bluffing, you'd never dare to do Y. We're going to pass that law soon, and we're sure you'll do X instead.

Facebook: Ok, we'll start doing Y right now.

Australia: Outrageous! How dare you try to strongarm a democracy by doing Y.


Its more like FB decided to go with the nuclear option, Z, instead of X or Y. This is reminiscent of mob-like extortion tactics, not of good-faith engagement with the legislative process of a democracy.

>And the drafters of that law very intentionally made the definition of news content as vague and broad as possible, to maximize the damage and thus minimize the odds of Facebook actually doing it.

Did you get that narrative straight from FB's PR department?


"Facebook didn't bat an eye before blocking the pages of food banks and emergency service providers..."

No, FB obeyed the law. The legislation of what constitutes a "news organisation" is opaque. The legislation said pay for links or don't show them. FB complied with the law and elected not to show them. I cannot see the problem here - FB obeyed the law.


The alternative would have been for FB to clarify what you say is opaque about the legislation. The fact that FB would rather outright ban charities and emergency service providers instead of clarifying the spirit of the law shows you that they are not operating in good faith and will maximize their profits at all societal costs.

Big News used to be the strong men.

IT’S THE SUN WOT WON IT

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/It's_The_Sun_Wot_Won_It

We are merely spectators watching the giants fight it out, ironically, by following news media’s coverage of events.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2021

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: