News traffic in Australia drops after Facebook link ban

Traffic to Australian news sites in Australia from Facebook links plummeted following Facebook’s decision to stop allowing users and publishers to share links on its platform on Wednesday, data from Chartbeat showed. .

Why is this important: Usually when the Facebook app goes down completely, the news traffic will move to other platforms. But since only link sharing was restricted, it resulted in people visiting fewer news sites in Australia overall.

Total news traffic to Australian news sites in Australia fell about 13% after Facebook began limiting link sharing, according to Chartbeat. Total traffic from Australian news sites from outside the country fell by around 30%.

  • Facebook said last year it generated around 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated A $ 407 million.

Yes, but: While the numbers show just how powerful a news distribution tool Facebook is, that doesn’t mean news traffic referrals will be down forever.

  • There is also a small chance that Facebook will still be able to negotiate a deal.
  • Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Thursday the government will continue to speak with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We will see if there is a way forward.”

Be smart: Facebook’s decision to stop link sharing was taken in response to a new law that requires Google and Facebook to pay Australian news publishers for content. This includes titles and links, with terms set by a third party.

  • While the law is intended to benefit publishers, it is likely that it will force local publishers to invest in new traffic SEO strategies.
  • Comscore says Facebook’s referral traffic to news publishers is higher in Australia than compared to the global average.
  • Facebook said it had pulled out of the region because the law “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship” between its platform and the publishers who use it to share news content. “

The big picture: The response to Facebook’s decision has been mixed. Some think the tech giant was right to move away from what can essentially be seen as an information tax that fundamentally flies in the face of an open internet.

  • Others said Facebook was wrong to pull out of the country because it would prevent thousands of people and publishers from staying connected during a pandemic. Those screams escalated on Wednesday when Facebook accidentally blocked nonprofit publishers and government websites.
  • Facebook says it is working to restore poorly targeted pages quickly, but the law is unclear which entities the government considers “news.”

What to watch: The law is still expected to be passed this week.