back to article Facebook rejects Australia's pay-for-news plan, proposes its own idea: How about no more articles at all, sunshine?

Facebook has announced it will "reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram" if Australia's pay-for-news plan becomes reality. By plan we mean a mandatory code of conduct that's been in a public consultation phase. Under these proposed rules, …

  1. Peter 39

    Trumpbook

    No issue if "Facebook" decides to not publish. That's their call.

    Given the lousy thumb-on-scale scheme to decide "what you want to see", seeing nothing would be an improvement.

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

      news represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed

      They even admit the fact. So what do people see in their news feeds if it's not news

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: news represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed

        Indeed, if it is not news that they are pumping out, why call it "News Feed"?

      2. Ian 55

        Re: news represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed

        What do people see?

        Cat photos, platitudes written in all caps because that's SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL, and the efforts of racist bots would seem to cover about 95% of it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like Censorship to me

    First they came for the Australians...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like Censorship to me

      Really? Sounds like "Cutting off your nose to spite your face" to me.

    2. kartstar

      Re: Sounds like Censorship to me

      Putting a price on links is censorship

  3. chuckufarley
    Alien

    Klaatu Barata Nikto!

    Earth has about 7,800,000,000 people on it. Australia is home to about 25,600,000 of these people. That is around 0.33% of the total. I have no idea how many people in this small fraction of the whole Facebook actually uses every day. In my own very cynical opinion it is not an issue of money for Facebook to take this stand but an issue of principles. In their minds they cannot afford to let some little, uppity, funny-talking country on the bottom of the world dictate terms to them because that might give larger, more powerful, and richer nations ideas.

    If anybody Down Under is reading this I want you to know that I support your rights to self determine your enconomy and your culture. I say you send the Aliens packing and be better off for it.

    1. DS999

      Re: Klaatu Barata Nikto!

      I think Facebook would probably have the same response if both the US and EU together had the same plan. Facebook makes money off people sharing/viewing news stories, but only so much. They could afford to let that go and figure maybe news sites suffer from the loss than they do and come back with a proposal they can live with. Or if not, live with the loss of revenue.

      I'm certainly no fan of Facebook, but this is no different than trying to a charge a web site for linking to your content. That's not how the internet works, or should work. If Facebook was reproducing news stories that's one thing, but 99% of the links to news stories I see posted just include a link to the story and a comment from the poster. The Register posts a lot more content from the story than people on Facebook do, even though it is augmented by a lot more additional comment than the one-liners that usually accompany news posts on Facebook.

      1. SlippyBuckfast

        Re: Klaatu Barata Nikto!

        "no different than trying to a charge a web site for linking to your content"

        I don't think it is. facebook is sort of a walled garden. Kinda like AOL was. except everyone is on it. So whereas it was never possible to stop 'the internet' linking to and effectively copying your stories - it is with facebook - the analogy I'd make is more like say a newspaper coming out that is just a copy of the previous days competitor newspaper. you'd not accept that either morally (stealing) or practically (day out of date). facebook steals it, makes money out of it, and it's up to date.

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Re: Klaatu Barata Nikto!

          it was never possible to stop 'the internet' linking to and effectively copying your stories

          FTFY... it was never possible to stop 'the internet' linking to and effectively copying promoting your stories

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Klaatu Barata Nikto!

          "a newspaper coming out that is just a copy of the previous days competitor newspaper"

          Not quite that but newspapers did make a habit of digging out odd stories from other papers. As the late Patrick Cambpell put it, "re-rehensilising some Bosnian peasants".

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: except everyone is on it

          No they aren't. Never have been, never wanted to and never will be.

          The same goes for Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat and everything else.

          Oh, and Google.com is blocked as well.

          Refuseniks of the world unite! We shall overcome!

          1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist
            Coat

            Re: except everyone is on it

            Refuseniks of the world unite!

            No!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        1. _andrew

          Re: Klaatu Barata Nikto!

          No, not content. Anything that smells like news, from anywhere, that an Australian might read. links shared between friends counts.

          The stupid regulation was drafted in full knowledge of what happened in Spain and Germany, and they tried to be clever and write it in a way that would not just result in Australian news being dropped.

        2. DS999

          Re: Klaatu Barata Nikto!

          What content? Facebook doesn't have news, it has links to news.

  4. Mainframe Bloke
    Flame

    Get on with it, we'd be better without you

    I hope FB go ahead and ban Aussie news and other content. I'm already pissed off that some ABC programs only use FB to show their wares. I never use it, so am locked out of taxpayer-funded content. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Get on with it, we'd be better without you

      One step further... I hate clicking on a news story(from any outlet) only to be taken to Youtube... I don't want to watch the stories... If I'm at work, the story can sit on another tab until coffee time or lunch when I can READ it!

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Get on with it, we'd be better without you

        Exactly. I am getting fed up of video versions of things that are absolutely unnecessary.

        The written word is one of the most important inventions in human history, because it allowed remote information sharing, and was also much faster than speech to process. We seem to be going backwards. I don't need a video of someone reading out a piece of paper. Show me the paper and I can read it myself in a fifth of the time.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          Flame

          Oh I so agree with you.

          I am incensed every time I search for a solution to technical issue only to find that some mumbling idiot posted a YouTube video that lasts 10 to 25 minutes, where half of it is him mumbling "um", "eh", "you know" and other completely useless drivel, and about 1 minute actually contains the solution I'm looking for, which would have taken only about 5 minutes to write and 30 seconds to read.

          If you want to post a video, at least have the decency to prepare what you're going to say in as efficient a manner possible. Don't just wing it, you're not that good.

          1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

            Oh god this infuriates me so much! I'd almost prefer to spend seventeen hours looking for a text-only answer than have to put up with the 5 minutes of rambling. And the 45 second intro graphic. And the 90 seconds spent begging me to subscribe before you've given me any info at all. Ugh.

            1. trindflo
              Facepalm

              Youtube video shell-game

              It is all part of youtube making money. If the person gets you to stay on their video for a certain amount of time it might be possible to monetize it and become a millionaire ... or more likely a nickelaire. If it is any consolation, the person making the video is being "bait and switched" at least as badly as you.

          2. Ian 55

            DunnoaboutmumblingbecausemostoftheYouTubevideosmydaughterwatcheshaveallthepauseseditedout.

  5. Dinanziame Bronze badge
    Angel

    an independent arbitrator would choose which of the two parties’ final offer is the most reasonable

    That's a very interesting idea. I'm not sure how "reasonable" can be defined — reasonably — in a legal way, but it is a very effective way to force each side to present an offer. Facebook and Google's offer so far has always been "How about nothing? Does nothing work for you?" and the publishers have always been forced to accept. But this rule automatically implies that the giants paying nothing at all is unreasonable, and so any proposal by the publishers would logically be more reasonable by default. And so, Facebook has to give a feasible proposal which would pay publishers some amount — because not doing so amounts to giving a blank check to publishers for whatever they ask.

    I think it's a bit shaky from a legal point of view, but I'm looking forward to applying this "choose the most reasonable" rule the next time my children are squabbling.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      "...or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits. Unfortunately, no business can operate that way."

      Perhaps they should send that memo to Apple.

    2. kartstar
      Thumb Down

      Unreasonable

      The factors that the arbitrator needs to consider to make this "reasonable" determination are defined in the code. However predictably enough given the instigation of this code (Murdoch etc), ALL the factors listed are favourable to the news organisation, while factors favourable to the platforms are ignored.

      For example, the cost to produce the content, and the indirect benefit that the platform receives from the content is included, while things like the indirect benefit to the news organisations get in potential increased subscriber count and the increased advertising revenue due to the referral are NOT listed as being a factor that can be considered in deciding the most "reasonable" offer.

      This unfairness is what is meant by: "Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers."

  6. Warm Braw Silver badge

    News represents a fraction of what people see

    In which case it's going to be pocket change to acquire it.

    This sounds very much like a synthetic fight to divert attention from the bulk of what people see which is definitely not grounded in and built on facts. It's pretty self-condemnatory to effectively admit it can survive without facts, but not without conspiracy, racism and misogyny.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    So that's 2.3 billion

    Clicks that faecebook won't be able to scrape data from, while leaving a potential newsfeed niche for somebody to fill.

    1. kartstar

      Re: So that's 2.3 billion

      ... until the filler of said "newsfeed niche" gets shaken down by the big media companies in the same way as Google and Facebook have been.

  8. Mark192 Bronze badge

    This will be heaven...

    ...for clickbait, outrage-driven 'news' sites that spread inflammatory content designed to be shared widely by the ignorant masses.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: This will be heaven...

      clickbait, outrage-driven 'news' sites that spread inflammatory content designed to be shared widely

      You've just described Facebook to a T...

  9. thinking ape

    Opening up for competition from others

    The less FB becomes relevant, the better. So this might provide an opportunity for others to come up with alternatives.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Opening up for competition from others

      The less FB becomes relevant, the better. So this might provide an opportunity for others to come up with alternatives that don't steal our life and sell it to advertisers and are not deliberately addictive (by design).

      There Fixed it for you

    2. _andrew

      Re: Opening up for competition from others

      Well I'm sure that Bing (Microsoft) are rubbing their hands in anticipation. The rule only applies to the named companies (Facebook and Google), not to search engines or social media in general. The treasurer has the power to add other companies to the list, but for now that's it.

      Of course it won't actually make people use Bing: the default search engine on the built-in browser on the most popular operating system on PCs and never the less everyone goes out of their way to install Chrome and Google search. That has to be telling them something...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook

    Chewy on ya boot

    Suffer in ya jocks

  11. beep54
    Angel

    News

    Anyone here remember when the nightly news was just about news with opinions at the end and clearly marked as 'opinion'? There were two networks doing this and they both treated news as 'in the public good' and not as a cash grab. [US here so....] The news department did NOT make money. This was Walter Chronkite ("the most trusted man in America") time. Then ABC happened, the Fox network of its day. They glitzed up the news and all hell broke loose and you got what we see today.

  12. Blackjack Silver badge

    Mom, do independent arbitrators exist?

    Yes honey, they live in the cupboard under the stairs together with the tooth fairy and that hobo that insists that he is a wizard.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FB against humanity

    "Facebook wants to support journalism"

    The only thing Facebook wants to support is its own revenue streams. We know it, they know we know it, but they still lie about it anyway so that Facebook-friendly politicians can use the same lies when selling their own lies to the electorate. FB and the right-wing politicians are engaged in a virtuous circle-jerk of deceit, and I'm amazed the Aussies have gone for this legislation considering their politics.

    Maybe our own Westminster politicians will grow a pair and do the same, by which I mean when Boris is no longer in power.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FB against humanity

      Maybe our own Westminster politicians will grow a pair and do the same, by which I mean when Dominic Cummings is no longer in power.

      That's better isn't it?

  14. Jonathon Desmond

    "Nice Country you have here...."

    ".... be a right shame if something was to happen to its Newsfeeds....."

  15. Glen Turner 666

    So sorry, we can't identify posts...

    For a long time Facebook has been saying how hard it is to identify and remove all the posts from nazis. Even well-known nazis. Even well-known nazis who are arranging to kill people.

    But it's expecting no issues identifying all posts from journalists in Australia.

    Isn't it amazing what an incentive self-interest can be?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hilarious Bluff

    Both Google and Trumpbook are bluffing. Australia is just following China's lead. Both companies value money over principle and have never to my knowledge walked away from a market over principle.

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