Unless you live in Australia and only get your news via Facebook, you’ve most likely heard about the dispute between the social network and Australian government which came to a head last week.
If you didn’t, here’s a quick catch-up.
Australia wanted to force big tech platforms to negotiate a “fair and reasonable”payment with Australian publishers for the use of news content on their platforms. However, Facebook argued that they gain little to no benefit from such content – and in fact, actually drive benefit for the publishers by hosting links to their material. So, when push came to shove, they decided to dig their heels in: “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.” The result? A pretty damaging effect on traffic for Australian publishers. This is what happened to Facebook referral traffic from within Australia to those publishers, according to data from Chartbeat.
If the shutoff continues, Joshua Benton, founder of Nieman Lab, predicts that, “… more dedicated news consumers might adapt in ways that are, on net, positive for publishers. Maybe they go to a newspaper’s website more often, or they sign up for a daily newsletter to get their fix. But the casual reader of news on Facebook might just skip out on news entirely.” As such, it could also provide an opportunity to reinvent how we consume and interact with sports content. Afterall, many fans currently consume sports content via Facebook – a platform that has never been designed for news (which has become ever-more apparent as the world continues to battle a fake news epidemic). Instead, fans could consume content that is housed in a purpose-built, personally curated aggregator, such as Australian start-up STADIUUM. This offers distinct advantages over the Facebook model. Firstly, having partnered with leading publishers, fans will only receive high quality, verified journalism (and no ads). More-over, the publishers will be able engage with fans as well as generate revenue via their custom sponsorship tool. While it’s unclear what will happen next in the Facebook saga, it is obvious there could be benefits to a migration of content away from social networks.