Facebook owner Meta to scrap deals with Australian media companies

Facebook parent company Meta will cease paying for news in Australia, after announcing it will end deals with local publishers when they expire this year.

The social media giant revealed on Friday it would not renew deals with local outlets first signed in 2021 and would remove its Facebook News tab in April.

In a statement, Meta said the move was part of an “ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most”.

“The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the U.S. has dropped by over 80 per cent last year,” the statement said.

“We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content – they come to connect with people.”

The move will mark an end to the three-year deal struck between Meta and a host of publishers in 2021 under the news media bargaining code.

The deals ensured the social media behemoth paid local outlets for the third party news content it published on its website.

By cancelling the deal, Meta is seen not to be removing news content from the Facebook platform; instead, it just will not pay for it.

News of the cancellation drew quick condemnation from the federal government.

In a joint statement, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said the government’s expectations were clear.

“Meta’s decision to no longer pay for news content in a number of jurisdictions represents a dereliction of its commitment to sustainability of Australian news media.

“The decision removes a significant source of revenue for Australian news media businesses. News publishers deserve fair compensation for the content they provide.

“The Australian Government is committed to the News Media Bargaining Code and is seeking advice from Treasury and the ACCC on next steps.”

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