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We’ve All Been Zucked; What Happened to Facebook Yesterday?

Following Facebook’s shutdown of news/media content for Australian users, it’s understandable if you’ve missed the latest news. Phoebe Metcalfe looks at what exactly happened, why it happened, and what it means for Yak Media.

Yesterday Facebook banned all forms of Australian news on its platform. From shutting down news and media outlet pages to restricting users’ ability to share articles and links.

This comes as a law passed through the House of Representatives on Wednesday night (17/02/2021). The law states that big tech and internet companies, such as Facebook and Google, have to pay Australian news outlets in order to share their content.

Originally, news outlets and journalists would make revenue through advertisements in print. Since the news and media landscape has transferred predominantly to a free and accessible online platform, making a profit is difficult to maintain and many outlets – especially independent ones- are struggling. The law protects media outlets and journalists from losing funding in the industry. This is the first law of its kind in the world (note that it has yet to pass through the senate and is not yet an enforced law).

However, Facebook isn’t a fan. In a big move to show their strength, Facebook took on a nation’s government and halted all sharing abilities for news outlets. This all happened hours after Google conceded and signed a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to pay 30 million dollars a year to use and share content from the media empire – including Sky News.

The issue with the Facebook ban is not only were big media outlets affected, but satirical-based media, emergency pages, first nation support pages, support services, women’s sports, health organisations, volunteer-run pages – like Yak Media – and even their own official page were wiped clean.

“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing” – Prime Mininster, Scott Morrison

Although our government is attempting to do right by the news and media industry, Facebook is intricately woven into our communication systems and we are dependant on it for fast-spreading information; especially while we have bushfires in WA, floods in QLD, an international pandemic, a COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and a sexual assault allegation from inside Parliament.

Other independent news sources are also paying the price, such as Yak Media, Newcastle Weekly, and The Betoota Advocate, with readership numbers being threatened. Thankfully, there are other places you can source this information from, such via our own websites or other social media channels, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (although it’s owned by Facebook, it has currently been unaffected).

Triple J’s Hack team covered this topic extensively on last night’s podcast episode if you’d like to hear more from the experts.

What does this mean for Yak? Put simply, we’ve lost one distribution channel. But we are still here, and still delivering content to UON students, for UON students, by UON students. You can connect with us by bookmarking our website – www.yakatuon.com – and by following us on our other social media platforms (ie. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube).

From the Yak Media Herd, we appreciate your continued support of our volunteer student media publication.


Feature Image: by Annie Spratt via Unsplash, no changes made.

 

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