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Meta to phase out Facebook News in US and Australia, despite agreements

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Meta has announced that the Facebook News tab will be removed for U.S. and Australian users. The section was already shut down last year in the UK, France, and Germany as the company shifted its focus towards providing content that people “want to see more of on the platform.”

The section had provided news content since 2019, as a way to “bring people closer to the stories that affect their lives.” However, following the rise of TikTok, the company has shifted its resources toward short-form video content through its Reels feature.

“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,” its corporate blog post said. “The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the U.S. has dropped by over 80% last year.”

The social networking giant stated that despite shuttering the feature, users will still be able to view links to news articles on Facebook, while news publishers will continue to have access to their Facebook accounts and Pages, “where they can post links to their stories and direct people to their websites.”

The update will not affect the existing Facebook News agreements that Meta holds with publishers in Australia, France, and Germany. The company highlighted that similar news-related agreements “have already expired in the US and the UK,” as stated in the blog post.

Australia threatens action against Meta over Facebook News

Amid the changes, the Australian government threatened action against Meta, after the California-based social media company said it would stop paying local media companies this year for using their content. 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed that he was “very concerned” about the repercussions of Meta’s decision. His administration announced its commitment to “work through all available options under the News Media Bargaining Code.”

Speaking to an Australian newspaper, Albanese said, “We know that it’s absolutely critical that media is able to function properly and be properly funded. Journalism is important and the idea that research and work done by others can be taken free is simply untenable.”

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland wrote on X that “Australian news publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide,” whilst Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones called it a “dereliction” of their commitment to Australian media.

This decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses.

Australian news publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide. pic.twitter.com/lIdYZEndyU

— Michelle Rowland (@MRowlandMP) March 1, 2024

The Albanese Government is deeply disappointed in Meta’s decision to no longer pay for news content in a number of jurisdictions.

It represents a dereliction of commitment to the sustainability of Australian news media.

Our Government is backing Australian journalism. pic.twitter.com/oOKT9TOqxg

— Stephen Jones MP (@StephenJonesMP) March 1, 2024

According to the Guardian, Jones added, “Nobody should be under any doubts about the government’s resolve to ensure that we have a viable media industry in this country.”

As a result, the ministers stated that the government is consulting with the Treasury and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for guidance on the forthcoming steps, which will be determined promptly.

Featured image: Canva

The post Meta to phase out Facebook News in US and Australia, despite agreements appeared first on ReadWrite.

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