Now That Rupert Murdoch Has Convinced Governments To Force Facebook To Pay For News, Facebook No Longer Wants Anything To Do With News
from the i-mean,-what-else-did-you-expect? dept
This should surprise no one, but Joshua Benton, over at Nieman Lab, has a really fantastically well-reported article about how Facebook basically wants out of the news business entirely. It goes through multiple reasons why this is the case, but a big one is that Rupert Murdoch’s decade-long demands that Facebook and Google simply fork over some cash to news organizations (for sending them traffic) has finally had some modicum of success in Australia, and is now being considered elsewhere around the globe.
As Benton highlights:
The fact that it worked in Australia has inspired other countries to try to do the same. Canada will soon pass a version of Australia’s law. The U.K. will likely do the same, promising “Australia plus plus.” And while I still doubt it will pass, there’s a weaker bill in Congress that’s seeing “new bipartisan interest.”
And, for Facebook, (whose core business has been struggling a lot of late) that’s just one more reason to just ditch news entirely.
But Facebook? Facebook has been trying to wipe the news off its platform for years. Why would it think it should be doling out hundreds of millions of dollars to publishers it is actively trying to squeeze off its feeds?
So it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s Facebook that plans to just…stop writing checks. It’s hit a little revenue bump and needs to cut costs. It has handed out hundreds of millions of dollars in order to shut up publishers, and now publishers in countries a lot bigger than Australia think they’ve figured out how to force it to hand out more — a lot more. If the checks didn’t work…why keep writing them?
Of course, as Benton notes throughout the article, there are plenty of other reasons for Facebook to abandon the news business entirely. It’s actually not what most people use Facebook for (he has citations to stats that suggest most users don’t even want to use it for news), and Facebook regularly gets blamed for all sorts of stuff, based on how news (and fake news) is shared on the site.
So, getting rid of news entirely kills two birds with one stone. It takes some heat off of Facebook… and it removes the need to pay these massive sums to shut up Murdoch and others.
Of course, that may mean that everyone who’s been hoping that free cash from Facebook would somehow “save the news business” are going to be forced to look elsewhere. Google may still be on the hook, but it’s not like the newer social media networks are likely to care much about news either. I don’t think many people rely on TikTok or Instagram (of course, also owned by Facebook) for news, as both are not even remotely built on links.
Maybe, just maybe, like we’ve been saying since Techdirt’s earliest days, news organizations need to focus on building sustainable business models, not just demanding cash from others who figured out how to give people what they actually want.