THE Herald has been caught up in the stoush between US tech billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Australia’s media moguls, with our Facebook page wiped clean by the social media giant on Thursday morning.
Facebook prevented users from sharing or viewing news content from a raft of news organisations across the country (as well as some domestic violence services and the Bureau of Meteorology) in retaliation for the Morrison government’s proposed media bargaining laws making it through the House of Representatives on Wednesday night.
The laws are aimed at forcing internet platforms to pay for news content they carry but don’t produce.
On Wednesday, Facebook Australia’s managing director William Easton said the decision to ban users from news (which had many wags wondering why they hadn’t been able to do the same with fake news so far) had been done with a “heavy heart”.
Mr Easton said the Morrison government had misunderstood the relationship between Facebook and news publishers.
“In fact, and as we have made clear to the Australian government for many months, the value exchange between Facebook and publishers runs in favor of the publishers – which is the reverse of what the legislation would require the arbitrator to assume,” he said.
“Last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million.”
The Chook wasn’t the only local outlet to be targeted by Facebook, with volunteer-run Fremantle Shipping News and Fremantle Stuff also waking to find their content ebrushed by the social media giant, while our competitor the Fremantle Gazette was also offline – just days after parent company Seven West Media signed a deal with the other meganopoly Google.
Facebook’s ban had WA premier Mark McGowan steaming, describing it as something you’d expect North Korean dictator Kim Yong-un to cook up.