There is a simple rule when there is a conflict. Before an attack, you should ask yourself whether you can take the echo. It will soon be clear whether Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has thought about this too well: Facebook is unnecessarily escalating the dispute with Australia over the planned law on the sharing of revenues with the publishers.
All news content as well as weather and disaster warnings from authorities have been blocked since Thursday. If you go to the Facebook page of an Australian medium, you only see that “there are no entries”. Particularly provocative: the authorities, such as those who warn of bush fires, are offline. Likewise, the vaccination pages of the Australian authorities, which can no longer provide information about the Covid 19 vaccination program via Facebook (allegedly “accidentally”). The latter can only be understood as a conscious provocation by Facebook. The aim is to illustrate that you are far too powerful to be brought to your knees by little Australia.
The controversial law in itself is not unusual. There are similar laws in some European countries and there was also a dispute in the previous phase. Internet giants such as Google parent Alphabet and Facebook are supposed to pay local media companies if they distribute their content and earn money from advertising. The law itself does not provide for an exact sentence, the publishers should agree with the corporations. Only if no agreement can be reached should a state commissioner arbitrate. It is not even clear how high the share is that Facebook or Google would have to pay. Nevertheless, the corporations consider the law to be “unworkable”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the measures “as disappointing as they were arrogant” on Thursday and said in a statement that Facebook had “unfriended” Australia. It is expected that the law will be passed by parliament even more now in the coming days. In any case, giving in is out of the question for him.
A billion for Murdoch
Aggravating for Facebook is the fact that Google has pulled out of the front and has reached an agreement with the News Corp of publisher Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is one of the biggest players in the Australian market. The agreement runs for three years and plans to make “significant payments” to News Corp, said the company, which owns newspapers in Australia such as “The Australian”, “The Daily Telegraph” and “The Herald Sun”. The deal also applies to News Corp.’s U.S. media. Package value: around $ 1 billion. News Corp and Google will develop a subscription platform, share revenue through Google’s advertising technology services, expand audio journalism, and develop video journalism from YouTube. Murdoch has long been fighting to get money from Internet platforms for journalistic content.
The departure of Google at the moment of all times could prove fatal for Facebook. Even if Facebook points out that Google is more dependent on third-party content, Facebook will come under pressure. The fact that Facebook expresses its (still) dominant position in such a crude way could also prove to be disadvantageous elsewhere. After all, there were always political discussions about breaking up the corporations that had become too powerful. In Australia, Facebook is currently voluntarily delivering the “Smoking Gun” for this purpose: grist to the mill of the critics.