Updated March 1st, 2024 at 09:48 IST

Meta stops payments to Australian news publishers on Facebook

Meta revealed its intention to discontinue a news promotion tab on Facebook in Australia and the United States.

Reported by: Business Desk
Meta revealed its intention to discontinue a news promotion tab on Facebook in Australia | Image:Meta
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Meta Platforms announced its decision to stop payments to Australian news publishers for content shared on Facebook, sparking renewed tensions with Australia. The move comes amid Australia's pioneering legislation requiring tech giants to negotiate licensing agreements with news outlets.

Concerns have long been raised by news publishers and governments, including Australia, about the perceived unfair advantage enjoyed by platforms like Facebook and Google when displaying news links. Meta argues that news links constitute only a small portion of users' feeds and asserts that publishers retain the option to share content on their own Facebook pages.

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Meta revealed its intention to discontinue a news promotion tab on Facebook in Australia and the United States, following a similar move made last year in the UK, France, and Germany. Consequently, the company declared it would refrain from entering new commercial agreements for traditional news content in these regions and would not introduce new Facebook products tailored for news publishers.

In response, the Australian government expressed its concerns, announcing its consultation with the Treasury and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to determine its course of action. Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones criticized Meta's decision, denoting it as a disregard for the sustainability of Australian news media.

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The withdrawal of payment for news content by Meta is expected to impact the revenue streams of major Australian media outlets, including News Corp and the Australian Broadcasting Corp, beneficiaries of the 2021 legislation mandating licensing agreements with Meta and Google.

Meta's resistance to the legislation had previously led to a temporary news blackout on Facebook in Australia in 2021, reminiscent of a similar situation in Canada following the passage of analogous legislation in 2023.

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Under Australia's law, the government will determine whether to appoint a mediator to negotiate fees with Meta for a new round of agreements. Existing agreements between Meta and Australian media outlets, typically spanning three years, were set to expire in 2024. Google, on the other hand, is already engaged in negotiations to renew its licensing deals, which typically last five years.

With approximately 22 million Facebook users among Australia's 26 million population, the ramifications of Meta's decision reverberate widely across the country's digital landscape.

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(With Reuters inputs)
 

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Published March 1st, 2024 at 09:48 IST