COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
Facebook’s sudden shutdown of its Australian news content should be a wake-up call for all who have come to rely on it as a source for either consuming or disseminating information.
They may have thought they were getting something for nothing, that Facebook was providing a service but now the company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are showing their true colours: Facebook is all about making money.
Despite making noises about social responsibility, that lags a long way behind Facebook’s drive to maximise profits, minimise costs.
As a private company they don’t have an obligation to serve Australia – or Alice Springs – and they’ve made that abundantly clear, even shutting down sites providing vital health information during this time of pandemic and urgent vaccine rollout to the most vulnerable in our community .
News media by contrast, bound by the Journalist Code of Ethics, do have a responsibility to serve the public interest. It is their work that Facebook does not want to pay for, at least not in the way being proposed by the Australian Government’s news media bargaining code legislation.
Other than the public broadcaster, news media have had their commercial model dramatically eroded by Facebook, which has channelled an estimated 80% of Australian advertising revenue to California, even while channeling journalists’ work, without compensation, to their members.
All tiers of government – including here the Town Council and the NT Government – as well as a string of other publicly funded organisations have gone along with this, using Facebook’s platform for sharing their important information rather than supporting professional media whose work is a vital underpinning of our democracy.
As always the solution lies in the hands of the public – you got along very well without Facebook before and you can again, by choosing to consume and support professional news media, including the Alice Springs News, as your principal source of information.
COLLAGE: The publicly elected Town Council and the publicly funded Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (currently under external administration) are extensive users of FaceBook while bypassing local media with their paid advertising.