Facebook has rejected a proposal by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) to share advertising revenue with Australian news organizations, The Guardian reported. Facebook says there would “not be significant” impacts on its business if it stopped sharing news altogether.
The ACCC is an independent Commonwealth statutory authority whose role is to enforce the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and a range of additional legislation, promoting competition, fair trading and regulating national infrastructure for the benefit of all Australians.
Based on this description, it seems to me that the ACCC is well within its rights to push Facebook to pay for using news content by sharing advertisement revenue with Australian news organizations.
Facebook, being what it is, has rejected the proposal. In its submission to the ACCC, Facebook said there was a “healthy rivalry” between itself and news organizations. It also said that it supported the idea of a code of conduct between digital platforms and news publishers, but that Facebook and Google were being “singled out” unfairly.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that Facebook (and Google) are being “singled out” unfairly by the ACCC’s proposal that the companies must start sharing ad revenue from the news websites that they each glean content (and revenue) from. This is nothing more than an excuse by Facebook, who clearly is trying to avoid the code of conduct it says it is in favor of.
In addition, The Guardian reported that Facebook said: “If there were no news content available on Facebook in Australia, we are confident the impact on Facebook’s community metrics and revenues in Australia would not be significant.”
To me, that sounds like Facebook is threatening to cut off Australian users from all news content. It also sounds sketchy. If the revenue Facebook gets by serving ads (attached to news content) to Australian Facebook users is so small – then it sounds like a company as big as Facebook could easily pay the news companies for that content.