Australians woke up yesterday to find they are being blocked from accessing news in their Facebook feeds.
The problem is, this hasn’t just affected big media outlets like the ABC, SBS or Channel 9 like news outlets are reporting, this has affected small news websites like music media, independent blogs and podcasts as well as some bands.
In this episode I’m going to be giving you the low-down on what’s been affected, the impact for you whether you’re in Australia or not and workarounds myself and others have been using.
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Australians woke up yesterday to find they are being blocked from accessing news in their Facebook feeds, in a dramatic escalation of the social media giant’s stand-off with the federal government. The move also prevents people overseas from sharing Australian content on the social media site.
Facebook said it made the move in response to the government’s proposed media bargaining laws, which would major force tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay Australian news outlets for their content.
FYI – It comes as authorities in some countries revealed 6 months ago that they have been investigating how tech firms use news content without paying for it.
Facebook said the proposed Australian law fundamentally misunderstood the relationship between their platform and publishers who use it to share news content despite the fact that Aussie Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tweeted that he had held “constructive” talks with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg yesterday morning.
Facebook said it faced the stark choice between attempting to comply with Australian law, or banning news content on its platform in Australia — and “with a heavy heart” it was choosing the latter.
The problem is, this hasn’t just affected big news outlets like the ABC, SBS or Channel 9 like news outlets are reporting. This has affected small news websites like music media, independent blogs and podcasts as well as some bands!
What’s been affected:
- All posts from Australian Facebook Pages deemed as news pages have been hidden (their pages appear as almost a shell e.g. Heavy Magazine). However, if you’re outside Australia, they’ll appear as normal.
- All posts from Australian Facebook Pages deemed as news pages have been removed in Facebook Groups. This especially impacts community groups associated with media outlets such as Wall of Sound’s Community of Legends Group.
Posts in groups from Pages are hidden for everyone – NOT just for people in Australia.
- They’re classifying some podcasters, blogs and band pages as media also, depending on what links are included in their posts.
My Monica Strut business page has been affected despite the fact that my page “Type” is “Artist/Coach.” All my posts from the page have also gone from my Facebook group (which is, unfortunately, 99% of them including training videos). But other podcasters have not been affected and I’ll reveal why later.
What is the impact?
- The most obvious impact is that posts have gone from Facebook Pages deemed as news pages – so if you’ve gotten a media feature recently that they shared on Facey, that sucks.
Some band pages also have zero posts for fans viewing from an Australian IP address. If an Australian band or page affected even tries to post an article we now get an error message:
This has even impacted bands like Metallica and Nickleback (insert obvious joke about Facebook doing people a favour hiding Nickleback posts here), but on a sadder note, also some smaller bands.
- On a lesser note, I first noticed there was an issue with my Facebook group as the cover image had disappeared. Managed to update it today fro my personal profile today and it eventually worked – so no big.
- Mostly, this will affect you if you’re a band that is mid-PR campaign and is trying to reach an Australian audience.
This will of course affect Australian media outlets the most and second to that, PR companies that service the Australian market.
The biggest issue is that you can’t share news pieces, reviews or interviews on Facebook, which look, isn’t the end of the world if you have other platforms (which most people do) and an email list.
What are the work-arounds?
- If your page has been affected, posting in your Facebook Group from a personal profile works. I removed my business page as an administrator of the group and now it’s just run by my personal page. Also assigned admin role to my boyfriend as a safeguard just in case anything happens to my personal page in future.
- I mentioned some podcasters have been affected but not all. The podcasters I know that have shared links to their episodes directly from platforms like YouTube, Spotify or podcast platforms like Wooshka or Castbox have not had their posts wiped.
Therefore, you can continue to share your podcast in your Facebook Group or on your personal page so long as it’s a direct link from Spotify or similar as opposed to via your website.
- If you’re in the middle of a PR campaign right now, you can share your links on other platforms like Twitter and in your IG bio. If you have over 10k on Instagram you can also utilise the swipe up feature and if you have an email list, of course, you can start utilising that more too.
For Facebook, I’d suggest creating a graphic in Canva and putting a little about the news piece or interview in the caption.
- Start an email list! Email is a powerful direct marketing tool. Join my Being in a Band membership now as this month’s theme is Email Marketing which could not be more perfect timing!
What you can do to help
Remember that this affects you too. I always say, support the scene and they’ll support you!
- Follow media outlets on other platforms – particularly Twitter and Instagram
- Subscribe to their email list – this is the most direct way to get news and support them. Sub to my email list below!
Shoutouts and thank yous to: Curtis Dewar from Dewar PR, Browny from Wall of Sound for your help in figuring our how I’ve been impacted and some workarounds. Also, shoutout to Luke Dennis and Michael Teso-riero who have been helpful.
Also wanted to shoutout Monique Pym from the band Reliqa/publicist for Overdrive PR who helped me with a blog post I’m writing for Bandzoogle on grants for Australian musicians and bands – that will be out soon on the Bandzoogle website.