Facebook’s news-takedown anniversary a reminder to invest in journalism

Today marks one year since the company formerly known as Facebook mounted a hostile takedown of Australian news and civil society sites, threatening quality journalism in Australia.

“The failed takedown, designed to apply bipartisan pressure in an effort to block the News Media Bargaining Code, highlighted the willingness of the global corporate giant to threaten quality journalism and Australian’s social connection in order to pursue its own commercial interests,” said Peter Lewis, Director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology.

“12 months on, Australia’s media companies are in a substantially better financial position, with an estimated $150 million in deals that recognise the value of public interest journalism.

“The Code, recommended by the ACCC as part of a broader inquiry into the broader market power of digital platforms, has become a model for many other governments worldwide.”

However, there are issues that warrant closer examination.

“The public deserves more transparency over the amount of money paid to news organisations and how much of this has gone to employing more journalists – this shouldn’t be hidden behind commercial-in-confidence deals.

“We should also know what conditions were attached to various payments, and how news content is prioritised and packaged for the platforms.

“Just as we need more information about the secret algorithms that drive the platforms, we need more information to understand what the Code has delivered.

“Finally, the ACCC’s 23 other recommendations, which go from privacy to disinformation to supporting digital literacy, remain unaddressed and should be implemented.”

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