Facebook has let us back in. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and internet supervillain, has pulled the comically oversized lever on his desk from ‘no content’ to ‘content’. We’re back, baby!!!! Awooooga!!!
In a stunning about face on Tuesday, Facebook announced it will let Aussie publishers return to their posting habits “in the coming days”. If you’re reading this from Facebook, it means the “coming days” have arrived. I’m writing this on a Tuesday, mere minutes after the announcement. You might be reading this on a Wednesday! Time is tricky. How’s the future?
Facebook hitting ‘go’ on the content machine comes days after it unceremoniously nuked all news content in Australia (and a good deal else besides).
So why did it change it mind? Clearly, there was a bit of argy-bargy over the media bargaining code behind the scenes. Also on Tuesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced several amendments to the code, the first of which takes into account whether platforms (largely Facebook and Google) have struck a deal with local publishers.
“A decision to designate a platform under the Code must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses,” Frydo said.
In other words: If a ‘platform’ (e.g. Facebook) strikes a bargain with a ‘publisher’ (e.g. Nine Entertainment, which FYI owns PEDESTRIAN.TV), then it could avoid being subject to the code altogether.
Our government also reckons these amendments will bolster the bargaining power of independent and/or regional publishers. I suppose it will, in the sense that they’re in a stronger position that they were last week, but how much can you de-David and Goliath a small regional publisher with Facebook, anyway?
It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. I’m sure there will be many a take to read.
In the meantime: awoooooooga, fuckos. We’re back.