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Facebook blocks independent newspapers

Pat Fordham

Last Thursday, many Australian’s awoke to find their ‘news’ feeds lacking crucial news.
This has since been linked to recent legislation passed by the Federal Government last week in the form of media bargaining laws. These laws will require social media companies to pay news outlets for the content that appears on their sites.
The Chair of the Public Interest Journalism Institute, Professor Allan Fels believes that;
“The mandatory News Media Bargaining Code seeks to address market power imbalance”, the media professor says.
This imbalance is ultimately caused by a funnelling of advertising revenue away from media organisations and into multinational technology companies such as Google and Facebook.
The act of a ban on news organisations has effectively disoriented smaller media organisations and community newspapers, including the Clarence Valley Independent. These outlets rely on social media platforms in order to connect with their audience in an effective and an instant manner. Members of the community have also come to depend on regional news outlets in times of natural disasters and wild weather.
Associate Professor of Information Technology at Melbourne’s Monash University, Carlston Rudolph, believes that small outlets will now find it increasingly difficult to connect with their audience.
“A lot of them really rely on their Facebook presence and they don’t really have a way round, compared to the big ones, where people know how to get their newspaper and turn on their television channel,” Professor Rudolph notes.
The damage this ban has inflicted on all news outlets has raised the question of what other options do media organisations have, in order to connect with their audience.
“If everyone knew that this would be a permanent situation, I guess the different organisations would need to find other platforms that exist,” the Professor of Information Technology notes.
Many in the media industry believe that Facebook will eventually make an agreement with the Australian Government and local media companies, bringing them into line with one of their largest multinational counterparts, Google.

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