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Meta to Close Facebook News in US and Australia

Meta to Close Facebook News in US and Australia

Sarah Hardacre March 21, 2024
March 21, 2024
Meta has announced it will remove Facebook News in Australia and the United States, citing an 80% drop in the number of users in these countries.

Facebook News is a dedicated tab available in the bookmarks section that highlights news content. The Facebook News tab was already deprecated in France, Germany, and the UK last year.

This change will not affect any other Meta product or service in these countries and news agencies will still be able to access their Facebook accounts and Pages to post content.

In its announcement, Meta says, “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.”

Meta has also disclosed that this change will not affect any existing agreements in place with news publishers. However, Meta revealed it won’t “enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future,” stating this was part of an “ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value most.”

The announcement generated backlash, particularly in Australia, where most of the agreements between Meta and media agencies are set to expire in 2024. These deals are worth approximately $45 million of investment in the news industry per year.

Australia enacted a law in 2021 to protect the news industry and ensure that its intellectual property is not used by large tech platforms without fair compensation.

Following the announcement from Meta, the Australian government reached out to the Treasury Department and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for advice on how to proceed.

In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Anthony 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.”

Prior to the law coming into effect, Meta had temporarily removed all news content for users in Australia, similar to what it has done in Canada, in order to comply with the new regulations. This remains an option for Meta going forward should it not be able to reach a new agreement with the Australian government.

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