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Facebook News Ban: What Happened and Will This Affect My Ads?

Overnight, your Facebook News Feed will look pretty different if you live in Australia. What are the changes and what does it mean for your social media content and ads? Let’s take a look.

What happened to news on Facebook?

Facebook has restricted users in Australia from reading or sharing news content. This is after months and months of discussions with the government about a proposed media code designed to make sure that Australian news publishers are paid fairly for the use of original content on search engines and social media platforms.

Major media companies Seven, Nine and News Corp have already negotiated deals with Google this week, while Facebook has stated that the proposed law ‘fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content’.

The government isn’t backing down, with Greens media spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young saying, ‘Facebook has proved this morning they have become far too big, reinforcing the need to regulate this corporate bully.’

There are two sides to every story, and this is no exception. 

Should we be wary of what this could mean for the future of digital advertising on this platform?

Who will be affected?

Media Pages on Facebook aren’t being taken away, just restricted. These Pages will show up with ‘No posts yet’ if you try to view their content. 

  • Australians can no longer view or share links to Australian or international news content, or view and share content from Australian and international news Pages. This includes Australians who travel overseas and still have their location set to Australia.
  • International Facebook users can no longer view or share Australian news content on Facebook, or content from Australian news Pages.
  • Australian publishers are restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages, but admins can still access Page Insights and Creator Studio.  
  • Publishers outside of Australia can keep publishing news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences.

The problem is, some Pages seem to be stuck in a grey area. The government’s legislation is broad enough to include publishers outside of traditional news outlets, so Facebook has initiated a blanket ban that covers government health sites, unions and emergency services. 

How will Facebook’s News Feed changes affect my ads and business?

Restricted Pages

From the Twitter outrage, it seems that many Pages have been caught up in Facebook’s news ban that shouldn’t have been, including large retail companies like Harvey Norman and smaller businesses like Gippsland Jersey and Blue Derby Mountain Bike. Facebook even accidentally blocked its own page for a while there.

If that’s you, click on the notification pop up on your Page, which will take you to the Help Centre where you can fill out an appeal form and get your Page back.

Facebook ads

Let’s be clear, unless your page has been restricted or your ad uses news content, then your ads shouldn’t be affected at all. CPMs will not change and results or reach will not be affected.

Instagram

Although Facebook is linked to Instagram, the proposal has not singled out this platform so you can still view and share news content on Instagram.

Media mentions

If you’re using a media feature in your ad, then it may be restricted – change to a different image and copy now.

Sharing news

Here’s a handy tip if you’re keen to share a news article. Write a post with an intro, shorten the news link using Tinyurl or Bitly and then paste that link as a comment. It should bypass the algorithm and let you post it!

Facebook’s reputation

Whether it was a glitch in the system or a protest taken too far, Facebook shut down the Bureau of Meteorology during bushfire season, government health sites during a pandemic and voluntary organisations that provide relief during a time when many have been hit hard with unemployment or lost income. Will Australians be quick to forgive this tech giant like they have in the past?

Conclusion

In short, there’s a whole bunch of parties – Facebook, the Government, and media outlets – flexing their muscles right now until someone caves. It’s unlikely that this blanket ban on news will stay in its current form.

There’s a lot of news going around about ‘the end of Facebook’ from news outlets, while the government is actually having productive conversations with Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team about what happens next.

Only 4% of total engagement with Facebook is around news content. Users still mostly use the platform for social connections and events. In anticipation of this announcement, Facebook has been tweaking the algorithm to prioritise non-news related content on people’s News Feeds, so it could actually work in your favour right now with more people seeing your content.

We’re here to help! As a Facebook Marketing Partner, we get insights first and directly from Facebook. Get in touch now to understand how our marketing experts can help navigate these changes for your business.

Featured image source: telegraph.co.uk