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Meta Announces It Will Stop Funding News In Australia, Australian Government Fumes

Meta Announces It Will Stop Funding News In Australia, Australian Government Fumes

Meta the parent company of the popular social media app Facebook has on Friday, March 1st announced that it will no longer renew deals to pay news publishers in Australia.

The Australian government blows hot upon hearing the news thereby condemning Meta's decision to stop the publishing deal.

To ensure that Meta can "continue to invest in products and services that drive user engagement”, the company will not renew its funding deals with traditional news content and “will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future”, the tech giant said in a post on Meta's website.

According to Meta, its decision to halt news deals would not affect existing agreements with publishers until they expire.

Meta also said it will close down its news tab in Australia and the United States in April, following the retirement of the feature last year in the UK, France, and Germany.

The Facebook parent company confirmed that it was making the changes to “better align our investments to our products and services people value the most”.

“As a company, we have to focus our time and resources on things people tell us they want to see more of on the platform, including short-form video,” it said.

“The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the US has dropped by over 80 percent last year. We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content – they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities, passions, and interests.”

The Meta deal with traditional news publishers and websites in Australia came after Australia passed landmark legislation in 2021 which requires tech platforms to pay for the news content shared on their platforms.

After Meta's announcement which came as a surprise to news publishers in Australia, the Australian government immediately criticized Meta's decisions and questioned its transparency.

Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Assistant Treasurer and Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones called Meta’s decision a “dereliction of its commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media”.

“The Government has made its expectations clear. The decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses. Australian news publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide,” Rowland and Jones said in a joint statement.

According to Rowland and Jones, they would seek advice on the next steps from the treasury and Australia’s competition watchdog.

“We will now work through all available options under the News Media Bargaining Code. The government will continue to engage with news publishers and platforms through this process,” Rowland and Jones added.