Web traffic to Australian news sites fell by 13 percent from within the country and 30 percent from overseas after Facebook blocked news content from its platform for Aussie users earlier this week, according to figures from web analytics firm Chartbeat.
The data, collected from about 255 Australian websites and reported on by local media including the ABC on Friday, provided an indication of the impact of Facebook’s ban, implemented in response to the Australian government’s proposed laws to force tech companies to pay some publishers for their content.
The drop is different from what publishers have experienced during temporary Facebook outages, Chartbeat Chief Technology Officer Josh Schwartz told the ABC. “In prior research, we’ve found that when Facebook was completely down, users shifted from Facebook to other platforms and traffic remained constant or even increased,” Schwartz said. This time, “when Facebook traffic dropped off, overall Australian traffic did not shift to other platforms.”
Facebook initially campaigned alongside Google against Canberra’s News Media Bargaining Code. But the two tech giants adopted different strategies this week, with Google striking deals with the country’s largest publishers, while Facebook banned news for its Australian users.
In a press conference overnight, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would not back down: “I would just say to Facebook: This is Australia. You want to do business here, you work according to our rules.” Referring to the news ban, Morrison added: “I know how Australians react to that. I thought that was not a good move on their part. They should move quickly past that, come back to the table and we’ll sort it out.”
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