The recent controversy on Facebook’s alleged threat to news media companies on a blackout of news on the platform showed the world how social media giants have the power to control the narrative. But Facebook’s move to restrict news access in Australia has backfired and turned into a PR disaster. And now, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has come out to clarify its stance on the issue. In this blog post, we’ll explore how Meta’s recent actions prove that the news blackout wasn’t a threat; it was a promise.
1. A New Name for a New Image
In October 2021, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta, signaling a new direction for the company. Meta is now expanding into metaverse technologies, a virtual world where people can connect, play, and work in a 3D environment. The move shows that Meta is pivoting towards a future beyond social media. But this also means that Meta has less incentive to take media companies seriously, as news content is not a priority for a metaverse platform.
2. A Minimal Impact on News Content
When Facebook blocked news access for Australian users in February 2021, it affected only 4% of the total news content on the platform, according to a report from the University of Canberra. The rest of the posts were still there, including pages from news organizations that did not participate in the news bargaining code. This means that Facebook had little leverage in terms of restricting news access, and its move was more of a symbolic gesture than a real threat.
3. A Change in Policy
After the backlash, Facebook agreed to pay news media companies for the use of their content, and the news blackout was lifted. However, Meta has since changed its policy on news content. In November 2021, Meta said it would no longer allow news content to be shared on its platforms in Australia, citing the high cost of complying with the news bargaining code. Meta’s statement proves that the company is not afraid to make bold moves if it feels that the cost outweighs the benefits.
4. A Focus on User-Generated Content
Meta’s decision to restrict news access also reflects its focus on user-generated content. Facebook, as a social media platform, was built on the idea of sharing content among friends and family. With Meta’s push towards metaverse technologies, user-generated content will be even more important, as people interact with each other in virtual spaces. News content, on the other hand, has become an afterthought, and Meta’s recent actions prove that the company is willing to let it go if it does not align with its goals.
5. A Warning to the Media
Meta’s recent actions should serve as a warning to the media industry. News organizations should not rely too much on social media platforms to distribute their content. Instead, they should invest in building their own platforms and creating direct relationships with their audiences. This will not only give them more control over their content but also protect them from the whims of social media giants. In the long run, independent media companies will be the ones who thrive, not the ones who depend on social media algorithms.
Meta’s recent actions prove that the news blackout was not a threat; it was a promise. The company’s focus on metaverse technologies and user-generated content means that news content is no longer a priority for Facebook. And with Meta’s recent decision to restrict news access, it’s clear that the company is not afraid to make bold moves if it feels that the cost outweighs the benefits. News organizations should take note and invest in building their own platforms to create direct relationships with their audiences. This will give them more control over their content and protect them from the whims of social media giants.