Australian Authorities Criticize Meta Following the Tech Giant’s Announcement to Cease Payment for News

Credits: Bloomberg

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced on Thursday its decision to cease payments to news content publishers in Australia, a move that triggered strong reactions from government officials in Canberra.

In a blog post, Meta stated that it would “not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content” in Australia, France, and Germany, and would not introduce new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.

The company also mentioned the discontinuation of a news content promotion tab on Facebook in Australia and the United States, following a similar move in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany last year.

Meta News (Credits: The Globe and Mail)

The announcement faced criticism from Australian government officials, who argued that Meta’s decision could jeopardize the revenue of news publishers. Australia has been at the forefront of countries urging Meta to compensate news outlets.

In a joint statement, Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones condemned Meta’s decision, calling it “a dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media.”

They emphasized the government’s expectation that Australian news publishers receive fair compensation for the content they provide and pledged to seek advice from the Treasury Department and the country’s competition watchdog agency.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed discontent with Meta’s actions, stating, “The idea that one company can profit from others’ investment, not just investment in capital but investment in people, investment in journalism, is unfair. That’s not the Australian way.”

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, a major Australian journalists’ union, questioned Meta’s commitment to journalism, while Karen Percy, president of the union’s media unit, criticized the company’s move as arrogant and indicative of excessive power.

Globally, publishers have accused social media platforms, including Facebook, of an unfair relationship regarding news content. The contention is that Facebook uses news headlines to engage users without necessarily driving traffic or advertising revenue back to news organizations.

In 2021, the Australian government attempted to alter this dynamic with the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, a landmark law requiring tech platforms to pay for news content displayed on their platforms.

However, Meta has substantially reduced the promotion of news and political content on its platforms in recent years. The company highlighted this shift, emphasizing that people primarily use Facebook to connect with others and explore various interests, with news comprising less than 3% of users’ feeds worldwide.

U.S. newsrooms have faced challenges, in part, due to decreased referral traffic from major social media platforms. Leaders of Meta-owned social media services Instagram and Threads have explicitly stated that their algorithms would not recommend news and politics content.

Im Ashley, I'm from India but you will often find me covering non india celebrity news.