Does Australia really matter to BigTech?
Australia is a minnow in the world with the size of our entire population almost equivalent to some major cities such as New Dehli. So when the Australian Government wanted BigTech to pay for the content they publish as “news” on their respective platforms it led some of these organisations to question whether they really cared about our market.
Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said “The rest of the world’s eyes are on us because others have failed where we’re now trying to succeed. We are in the middle of a digital revolution, the digital economy is changing the way we shop, the way we work and of course the way we communicate”.
Australia is considered a “test” case, with other countries watching closely how each of the giants behave. With Google originally calling the Morrison government’s bluff, the Prime Minister came out with an announcement of discussions with Microsoft and their alternative search engine Bing. This was enough to shake things up with Google, and following from this, this week Google announced details of deals with Seven West Media (SWM.ASX), and more recently Newscorp (NWS.ASX).
Facebook – Friend or Unfriend?
Unlike Google, Facebook’s chief Mark Zuckerberg decided to go a different tact.
Instead, yesterday here moved all “news” content from Australian Facebook pages. He believed Australia needed him, and not vice versa. With the definition of “news” not clear, he cutoff all content for hundreds of thousands of organisations whether it was internally generated or shared. Instead sites lay bare where important community information and alerts for fires, weather events, mental health help and the like once lay.
As the Prime Minister(ironically published on Facebook yesterday) said “Facebook's actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.”
The Treasurer, Mr Frydenberg also added that it was “heavy handed” and it was damaging to the social media giant’s reputation in Australia.
Zuckerberg’s move was extremely foolish, as it laid bare how much of a commodity each and every one of us are. It highlighted the lack of empathy and emotional intelligence this decision carried. While most charity Facebook sites are back up today; Zuckerberg has made some irreversible damage, and other more valued countries and regions now have a playbook.
Don't agree with what Facebook did? This is what you can do.