Home » Meta claims it gives news publishers $115m in free traffic every year

Meta claims it gives news publishers $115m in free traffic every year

The code was introduced in 2021 after the competition watchdog found there was a power imbalance between big tech platforms and news publishers. Google and Facebook had grown to collect almost 75¢ in every online advertising dollar, making money from content being shared on a platform but dramatically undercutting news outlets in the process. Because of the role news media plays in democracy, ensuring a stable revenue stream was deemed in the public interest.

The decision to pull out of the deals dealt a blow to media companies like Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment and News Corp that have been grappling with a deepening advertising crunch as businesses tighten their belts in a cost of living crisis. Those three companies alone stand to lose up to 9 per cent of their annual net profit after Meta withdraws, Macquarie has estimated. Nine is the publisher of The Australian Financial Review.

Meta said links to news were just 3 per cent of what its users saw, and that news content was not what people used Facebook or Instagram for.

“The truth is that interest in news is declining on our platforms and that our audiences are engaging with different types of content,” the company’s staff wrote. “News is not the reason people use Facebook and Instagram.”

They dismissed claims Meta had been “stealing” or “taking” news from media outlets, saying the media had been willingly posting on their pages and could stop at any time.

“Much of the recent public debate suggests that Facebook needs or unfairly benefits from news content, including financially. This isn’t the case,” the post reads. “As a content type on Facebook, news is highly substitutable. We have observed that when there is less or no news on our platforms, people continue to use our services.”

Last year, Meta blocked news outlets in Canada from using its platforms in response to a similar law trying to force it to compensate publishers. News, it said, was of “low value” to its users. It has left the door open to doing the same in Australia, a prospect which terrifies some smaller news outlets that would immediately lose access to huge audiences.

“The number of daily and monthly active users on Facebook in Canada has increased since ending news availability,” Meta’s policy team wrote.