No Facebook? No problem. Helping your business communicate without the social media platform many of us have come to rely on.

Facebook has made the unprecedented and well-publicised move to ban Australian news publishers and other associated users from sharing and viewing news on its social network.

This has left many without their usual platform for accessing the news but has also caused hundreds of businesses that wouldn’t normally be considered ‘news’ sites to incorrectly have their Facebook posts removed. So, why did this happen, what can be done about it and how should your business adjust its communications plan?

This action is in direct response to the Commonwealth Government’s proposed Media Bargaining Law, which passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday 17 February. The Bill requires social media companies to pay news organisations if its content is shared on Facebook.

William Easton, Managing Director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand stated “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our 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.”

Easton continued to highlight that proposed legislative changes misconstrue the relationship between publishers and the platform. Facebook publishers choose to share their content across Facebook, as it is beneficial to them and their audiences.

In the last year alone, Facebook generated “approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million,” Easton stated.

For Australian publishers, the updates result in restrictions in sharing and posting any content on Facebook Pages. Post history for news publishers has also been removed, although Facebook admins can still access other features from their Facebook Page, including Insights and Creator Studio.

Industries which have had posts removed extend beyond what most would consider a typical ‘news’ page. These include emergency services, local governments, healthcare, domestic abuse hotlines, and unions. Facebook applied the term ‘news’ quite broadly, extending it to healthcare and various other entities, as this is how the term ‘news’ was applied in the legislation. As result, Facebook has been able to cut millions of users from being able to access news and content from a wide range of publishers.

Communities across Australia rely on the social network for timely information on COVID restrictions, health updates, and bushfire alerts. This move by Facebook has already resulted in global condemnation.

Facebook has acknowledged many pages were incorrectly categorised and will be working to rectify this over the coming weeks. The appeal process opens on Thursday 25 February.

Tips for your business:

  • Reach out to your clients
    • Utilise your database and send a text message or EDM to let clients and other stakeholders know how you will be communicating with them over the coming days or weeks
  • Update your Facebook ‘About’ section to include information on how you will be communicating with your clients
  • If your page isn’t restored by Thursday 25 February, you can begin the appeals process with Facebook.

Author


Mel Newcombe
Senior Consultant

Mel is a Senior Consultant at Clarity Communications, specialising in creating and delivering communications strategies, and providing high-level digital corporate communications and brand strategy advice.