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Facebook Just Unfriended Australia

Facebook Just UNFRIENDED Australian News!

What Does This Mean For Your Small Business? 

Facebook Just Declared "Digital War" On Australia

Social Media is great, but as many have discovered when Facebook declared "Digital War" on Australia, the business does not own information on their social media channels.

This month, February 2021, Facebook made a brazen attempt to crush the Australian Federal government's proposed regulations for them to pay for the use of local news content.

Australia is now on the front-line of this “Digital War”. 

The Australian Government proposed a legal code that would allow Australian news publishers to charge tech companies to use their content in search results and news feeds.

Facebook responded by blocking users in Australia from viewing or sharing news content on its platform.

Facebook is worried that as soon as they start paying for fresh news content in Australia, other countries will want in too.

facebook just unfriended australia
The Australian government’s proposed new regulations also apply to Google. Google also threatened to vacate Australia. But, instead, they have started negotiations with major news outlets, like News Corporation.

Facebook has also come to an agreement with News Corp, so the big players will likely be OK. But small businesses, small publishers are likely to be hit hard.

How Did the Unfriending Face-off Unfold?

On Wednesday night, with the flip of an algorithm switch basically, all of Australia's news industry pages went dark on the social network.

This impacted publishers large and small.

The public has horrified that the ban impacted many pages, not just news ones.

Facebook blocked not only news organizations but also Australian government websites including the weather service (the Bureau of Meteorology) and a state health agency that included pandemic resources.

The ban has had ripple effects across a whole range of pages.

As it currently stands, Australia’s main realtor pages are also blocked. (What does selling your house have to do with news, you might ask?  Well the two big real estate websites are owned by, you guessed it, News Corp and Fairfax.)

But the list of impacted pages does not end there!

As you can see in the image, this children’s association in the UK is also blocked to Australians.

facebook's digital war

Julian Knight, a British Conservative, said Facebook's actions would raise questions over whether the UK government should toughen its upcoming online harms legislation. He told The Times: "These bully-boy tactics are absolutely crass and irresponsible, particularly at a time of global pandemic when people need trusted news sources. (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/british-mps-round-on-bullyboy-facebook-after-it-blocks-news-in-australia-gv8d002r )

"It's Australia first, who will be next?" he said.

Australia is not alone.

According to the Independent, Canadian heritage minister Steven Guilbeault, in charge of drafting similar legislation to be unveiled in coming months, told reporters: “Canada is at the forefront of this battle ... we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this.” (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/facebook-australia-news-blocked-morrison-b1804058.html)

While the ructions impact news publishes right now, it is a stark reminder as to what important. Growing and nurturing your own database of contacts is vital.

What Does It Mean For You?

What does it mean for marketers and small businesses?

And if Facebook can thumbs-down an entire country’s move to support parity between tech giants and small news publishers, what is to stop them from blocking similar efforts in other sectors or countries in the future?

What To Do Immediately: Check Your Status

Today it looks like Facebook's initial cull has been pegged back a bit with pages like the Bureau of Meteorology active again.

Our Battlefield pages and groups seem safe for now!

It does not appear to be impacting Facebook groups and Instagram (yet!)

What you need to do:

  • Check that your Facebook content is still live, you will need someone who is not an admin to do this. Let us know in the comments if you are impacted.
  • Take this opportunity to put a link on your Facebook page too where people can sign up for your newsletter (just in case there are more rollouts)
  • For now, enjoy the better reach. An upside to this is we won't be competing with news agencies' content, live streams, etc so it will be interesting to see the impact this has on reach.

Summing Up

I'm sure there will be more ructions in the days and weeks to come.

Battlefield businesses may benefit from developing solutions that offer detox from dependence on the gated communities of social media.