RenewEconomy, along with its sister publications The Driven and One Step Off the Grid, has been effectively kicked off the Facebook platform as the social media giant responds to the federal government’s new media code by blocking all Australian media from posting stories.
The sudden and drastic measure was introduced on Thursday morning, despite several conversations between the Coalition government and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and other senior executives, and resulted in the content from government agencies and emergency services also being removed.
This will, if the situation stands, have a profound impact on Australian media, and the way that the public accesses news and information, in ways we may not fully understand.
What has not been removed from Facebook are the posts from the likes of Barnaby Joyce and other National MPs, still pushing coal and now nuclear, right wing anti-renewables activists, climate science deniers and the Liberals’ favourite think-tank, the Institute for Public Affairs. What we can’t do now is hold them to account on the Facebook platform.
RenewEconomy is also concerned that the shut-down will disproportionately affect smaller publishers rather than large media organisations, such as News Corp, Nine and The Guardian, which have launched extraordinary campaigns pushing the government to introduce the new media code.
Most of these organisations have also signed, or are negotiating, lucrative deals with Google reportedly running into the tens of millions of dollars a year. Most smaller publishers, like RenewEconomy – which delivered more than 20 million page views in 2020 and more than four million unique visitors across its stable (according to Google data) – have yet to be invited to such talks.
As Crikey’s Bernard Keane writes on Thursday, the real victims of this new code and the response from the social media giants will not be the Coalition, or the big media companies. It will be small and medium publishers.
“Those with an established brand, well-known mastheads and incumbency in the media market will, if anything, benefit from the impact as smaller competitors, small and medium publishers, regional media, and niche publications that rely heavily on social media to share content and attract eyeballs lose one of their key platforms,” Keane writes,
“The shutdown is potentially disastrous for those companies and for media diversity in Australia. Audiences will suffer.
“The point of the extortion racket was always to drive windfall revenue to News Corp and Nine — thereby indirectly strengthening their position in a shrinking market. That will continue to be the case while smaller publishers are preventing from using Facebook — if anything, more so.
“It’s not the way it was intended to be by the government that has stuffed this up so badly, but Mission Accomplished anyway. The rest of us just have to count the cost of yet another rotten media policy driven by the demands of moguls.”
RenewEconomy – with its focus on the broad energy transition, grid integration and climate policies – will continue to post stories on its sites, as will the EV-focused The Driven, and One Step off the Grid, with its focus on distributed energy such as solar and batteries.
You can also find us on Google News, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as the Facebook-owned Instagram page. We will also continue to deliver our daily and weekly newsletters, which you can subscribe to here.
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