Facebook stops news content on their platform in response to Australian Government changes. This has put the pressure on Mark Zuckerberg again.

Wherever you look, Facebook is in a fight somewhere with authorities or governments over its market power and the role it plays in censoring  information and sponsoring misinformation.

Facebook’s decision this week to pull down the Facebook pages of news services has had an unintended consequence for many essential services sites like hospitals, emergency services and even unions who have all had their Facebook pages blocked or removed. Not only their current images, information and photos but all content past and present has been destroyed forever.

This then raises another point – Who owns your content? (This can be discussed another time).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear at a hearing next month on 25 March before a House Energy and Commerce joint subcommittee hearing regarding online misinformation and disinformation.

Mark Zuckerberg testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in November about content moderation and their role in political discourse. At this hearing, the chief executives were hit with Republican complaints that the companies silences conservatives, while Democrats expressed worries about the proliferation of misinformation and hate speech on the platforms. The companies have consistently denied any bias against conservatives, or their viewpoints.

The Market Cap of Facebook puts it in the top 10 globally.

The Australian market is a fly in the ointment.

The Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg is meeting with Mark Zuckerberg again to discuss the heavy handed and unnecessary approach taken by Facebook. Josh Frydenberg says this approach has damaged Facebook’s reputation in Australia. Australian news content on Facebook only makes up 4% of their overall content.

On the other hand, Google has agreed with Australian media companies  to pay AUD$100 million on a deal to pay for content on their search engine. “News is critical to democracy and a vibrant investigative news service is critical to protect and foster”, said News Corp.

Microsoft is a distant second in search engine reach and jumped at the opportunity to fill the void that Google will leave it if doesn’t agree to the new legislation.

In the end, Facebook is totally responsible to their shareholders for their strategic decisions. They can walk away from Australia and avoid setting a global precedent, which could have catastrophic impact on their bottom line.

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