Veteran Journalist says Impact on Pacific of Facebook Restrictions of Australian News Unclear

A well known journalist and author, who has reported extensively on the Pacific region for more than 30 years, says he is still trying to figure out how the Facebook restrictions in Australia will affect the flow of news to the Pacific.

Michael Field is part of a team that runs the media organisation The Pacific Newsroom that is based in Australia and New Zealand. Michael says alongside his Pacific Newsroom partner Sue Ahern (in Melbourne), there is a concern that this Facebook action will cause real damage to the growing and lively world of Pacific people talking and discussing.

We might all have our views about Australia and its brashness, but its a part of the whole matrix and its sudden disappearance like this is worrying! We have spotted a couple of work-around ways of keeping our little Pacific Newsroom going, but this is only Day One! What next?Michael Field

Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand says in response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.

In a written statement William Easton says the proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between their platform and publishers who use it to share news content. “It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

“This discussion has focused on US technology companies and how they benefit from news content on their services. We understand many will ask why the platforms may respond differently. The answer is because our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with news.”

“Over the last three years we’ve worked with the Australian Government to find a solution that recognizes the realities of how our services work. We’ve long worked toward rules that would encourage innovation and collaboration between digital platforms and news organisations. Unfortunately this legislation does not do that. Instead it seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for.”

“Unfortunately, this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook. Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted. To do this, we are using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and we will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed.”

For Australian publishers this means:

  • They are restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages
  • Admins will still be able to access other features from their Facebook Page, including Page insights and Creator Studio
  • Access to all other standard Facebook services continues, including data tools and CrowdTangle

For international publishers this means:

  • They can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences

For the Australian community this means: 

  • They cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook or content from Australian and international news Pages

For the international community this means:

  • They cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news Pages

Michael Field says this fight between Australia and Social Media is, to us, like a fight between elephants.

Our little media operations (which we make no money on, and do it for love) are the small weeds in the lawn upon which these giant animals fight. We know from long experience that there is a real desire for Pacific people to connect and debate and social media is failing us.Michael Field
The Pacific Newsroom is a voluntary project that provides independent news and analysis about the Pacific. Journalists are welcome to post stories of interest to the Pacific community.
Image credit : Michael Field, Facebook