The new Media Bargaining Code proposed by the Australian Government, reached new heights of ridiculousness this week, as the Australian Senate grilled Facebook and Google executives, over the new proposed code.
This madness started back in April 2020 when the Government asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook.
Straight away, there are some big questions around what this scope means and why these two media companies alone would be targeted.
The new media code, would see Google and Facebook be forced to pay legacy media, to index and show their links to their contents in their news products.
If you’ve ever been to Google News, available from the News tab on any Google Search, or directly from news.google.com you’ll know that not the full article, but just the headlines are shown, which link to the source article, complete with the logo of the originating website name.
Having content indexed and showcased through search and news products, provides these outlets who have ultimately had to go online to survive, a very nice stream of referrals to their website.
The suggestion that Google should pay them for this is just ridiculous and is in complete contrast to the reality of how the internet actually works.
To remind people, publishers create original content, publish it and hope that people visit their website organically, either by going to the site directly, or finding it through a link online, usually via a search.
In Facebook’s case, there is actually an experience that does let users read full articles without visiting the publisher’s website, known as Facebook Instant Articles. The problem is, published have to actively make the decision to enable this, much like Google’s implementation of AMP, these user-first reading experiences have to be enabled by developers at the organisation.
In the last decade, social media has been a massive boost to driving traffic to websites and when the organic and free techniques don’t meet the traffic targets, that’s when companies get out the credit card and pay for advertising on platforms like Google And Facebook, but there plenty of others.
What that ‘power imbalance’ effectively refers to is that legacy news outlets see the profits of these international powerhouses and want a slice of it to fund their transition to an online business as the web continues to steal eyeballs from their media outlets.
This legacy media are so desperate to push their case that they’re willing to denounce any new, natively online business by pulling the trusted and credibility card, sighting the fact that their organisation has been around for more than 100 years.
Like legacy auto is finding out, tradition and history counts for nothing in the digital era, content is king and it’s time to stop pretending you’re all journalists are a superior breed of humans when most articles headlines are complete link bait, no better than the Daily Mail.
Facebook and Google both have massive audiences and make massive profits (which I’m sure is why they’re being targeted), but there are alternatives. You could consume 100% of your news via Reddit, Twitter or Yahoo and you could search on Bing, or DuckDuckGo, so this suggestion that Google and Facebook are ‘the Internet’ is a symptom of them making really great services people enjoy.
If these were Australian companies, not US-based ones, I think we’d be celebrating them, instead of trying to make them pay to play in our playground.
One of the most egregious conditions carved out in the t