Sydney, Australia, June 15 (efe-epa).- Facebook on Monday rejected a proposal by Australia, asking digital platforms to pay a share of their revenues to news organizations for publishing their news content.
In a letter to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the social media giant insisted that not publishing news-related content would not affect it too much, as it had changed its news feed algorithm in January 2018 to prioritize posts from friends and family and reducing exposure to news.
“If there were no news content available on Facebook in Australia, we are confident the impact on Facebook’s community metrics and revenues in Australia would not be significant,” it said in a press statement.
Following instructions from the Australian government, the ACCC is set to publish the draft of a mandatory code of conduct in July which includes payment and exchange of revenue generated by the international tech giants, such as Google and Facebook, for publishing news produced by local media houses.
Although Facebook said that it supports the idea of creating a code of conduct regulating the ties between digital platforms and news media, it insisted that sharing its revenues would amount to subsidizing a competitor.
“It is not healthy nor sustainable to expect that two private companies, Facebook and Google, are solely responsible for supporting a public good and solving the challenges faced by the Australian media industry,” the statement said.
“The code needs to recognize that there is a healthy, competitive rivalry in the relationship between digital platforms and news publishers, in that we compete for advertising revenue.”
The tech giant also claimed that its platform had generated 2.3 billion hits on links of news published by Australian media between January and May 2020, estimating the traffic’s value around $133 million.
An Australian media house had in May proposed that Facebook and Google should pay $386 million – around 10 percent of the total revenues of the multinational companies – to the country’s news organizations.
In its letter to the ACCC, Facebook proposed the creation of an “Australian Digital News Council” to mediate in disputes between digital platforms and media companies, instead of the penalties and punishments against the network included in the current proposal.
In its final report published last year, the ACCC had said that digital platforms earned as much as 51 percent of the public spending in the sector after doubling their share in the last five years at the cost of local print media, whose share dropped from 33 to 12 percent in the same duration.
Facebook, the most popular social network in Australia, boasts of 17 million monthly users, around 68 percent of the total population, in the country, while second-place Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, has 11 million users.
In 2017, Google collected 90 percent of search traffic generated on computers in Australia and 98 percent on mobile phones.
Like many other organizations and governments across the world, Australian authorities are concerned about Facebook and Google attracting major parts of digital advertising revenue in a space where they do not produce the news material published on their platforms. EFE-EPA