Google and Facebook pay for news will there be unintended consequences?

I just wanted to voice my concern over the government’s proposals re payment’s by Google and Facebook for publishing links to news. More the potential for unintended consequences, especially for small business.

I dare say that in any proposal that would see payments made to news organisations, the smaller ones (like this one) will most likely get little or nothing, while the large media players will be prime beneficiaries, rewarding those who for so long have been in denial over the internet threat and who continue to pull resources from the regions.

In the end, the big get bigger and the smaller regional, locally owned, media businesses are left to battle on.

However, more of an existential threat to local small businesses, not just media, is Google’s threat to pull search from Australia. Should Facebook also follow suit, the many small businesses that are the core of the local economy will be damaged.

Let me say:

• Bing is NOT Google. Google is more than search. It’s Mail, Drive, Maps, Workspace (G-suite) and a host of other services are anchored by search.

• So many businesses now rely on Google, not Bing, not Yellow Pages, not online directories, but Google, to be found.

• For many businesses their primary online presence is their Facebook page.

• For many businesses, organisations, charities their primary marketing channel is targeted Facebook advertising.

• A Facebook without news would be a diminished experience, with reduced traffic and a less compelling proposition for small businesses.

• A Facebook without true and accurate local news would allow to go unchallenged lies and disinformation.

Should these tech giants have so much control? Ideally not, but they have been very successful at what they do and we have all been complicit in their growth by our own actions.

Businesses, especially smaller businesses have been encouraged to innovate, get online, leverage the internet and technology.

I have attended many local events hosted around Facebook and Google, all with large numbers of participants. Small businesses have these two players as the foundation of their online businesses. On top of COVID I don’t think they would welcome the distraction should they need to rethink online strategies.

I don’t know what all the answers are. What I do know is that the news business model is fundamentally broken.

From what I am seeing though, there’s a good chance that while the Federal Government may seek to bring the tech giants to heel, there’s a greater chance they will damage many, many small businesses in the process. For what? Prop up big media who continue to abandon the regions.

I think there’s a lot more work to do.


  1. Thanks Charles, for sharing your thoughts on “unintended” consequences of the establishment media. I suspect that most owners and employees understand the likely consequences you mention. The problem is to help Australian taxpayers hear and act on the threats to all of us.
    I admit that I have not tried to follow progress of the government processes but see the establishment media making news about how much Google earns from us, or rather the advertisers that place advertisements on our screens.
    It would be good if locally owned online newscasters like yours can use the parliamentary processes to attract readers and advertisers.

    1. Thanks James. What’s the relationship status between news and big tech … “it’s complicated”. As I said, I think there’s a lot more work to be done.

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