Who else was shocked by their Facebook feed this morning? It all happened so quickly without any warning; Facebook blocked all news publication content from its users. Australians are unable to access any local or global news sites on Facebook.
Facebook users outside Australia are also restricted from viewing any content published by Australian news platforms on the site.
Facebook’s drastic decision to ban news from its platform was a reaction to the Australian Government’s proposed law, the News Media Bargaining Code, which would force Facebook to pay news outlets for content.
According to Genroe, 16.5 million Australians use Facebook every month, and it is our third-highest trafficked site after Google and YouTube.
The Facebook pages of the Australian media have millions of likes between them. The ABC has over 4 million likes on Facebook, providing its followers with easy access to the daily current events.
Facebook is responsible for sending free traffic to news publications every day, NOW without Facebook those same news publications will lose a portion of one of their main revenue streams. It seems the Australian Government’s plan to support news publications might damage the Media industry even further.
It is not known yet if Facebook will reverse its actions, but they are already receiving severe backlash with the ‘Delete Facebook’ movement gaining traction. Twitter is already trending with hashtags like #deletefacebook, #FacebookWeNeedToTalk and #BoycottZuckerberg.
It wasn’t just news outlets affected by the ban. The pages of sports teams, local councils, small indigenous groups, two-state opposition leaders and commercial retailer Harvey Norman were all blocked from posting content. Initially, several government health and emergency pages were blocked, which Facebook has admitted as a mistake and has been reversing.
Things you can do NOW to protect your business in the wake of Facebook's actions.
1. Start creating original content
You may have relied on news articles to update your followers on relevant industry updates, but nothing is stopping you from creating original content of your own to share. You can use those news articles as a starting point to produce original quality content for your followers.
It may take more time then you’re used to rather than simply pressing the share button. However, overtime producing original content will help you become a trusted authority in your field, which is well worth the extra effort.
2. Create an offline backup for all content posted on digital platforms
What is one thing we have learnt from Facebook baning news content and Google threatening to leave Australia? It has shown us we can’t rely upon these platforms to always be there for our businesses. It’s now more important than ever to think, if one of these platforms shut down will your business survive?
For example, if Facebook shut down entirely overnight without warning, do you have a backup of all your images, posts, and ad copy? It could take months if not years to recreate that valuable content you’ve built up over the lifespan of your Facebook Business Account. Ensure after creating any digital content; you save it to your computer or hard drive just in case.
3. Don't be so reliant on one digital marketing strategy
It’s no secret that social media can be a goldmine when it comes to digital marketing. However, businesses that rely purely on social media to make sales may not survive if Facebook disappeared overnight.
To give your business the best chance of survival in the ever-changing digital space, make sure you have a well-rounded digital strategy. The essentials of a versatile digital strategy include a well versed user experience (UX) website paired with the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Paid Social Media, Organic Social Media and Email Marketing (EDMs).
What to do if you think your Facebook business Page was unduly blocked
If you have a business page on Facebook that isn’t a news publication is it unlikely Facebook blocked your page. However, there have been reports of non-news pages having their content restricted from the platform.
First, check your page to see if you are still able to publish content. If you are unable to, don’t panic. Some pages were banned simply because the algorithm deemed them as news-related content, even if that wasn’t the case.
The pages of businesses and services that were unduly blocked on the morning of 18th February 2021 were already back online by that afternoon. If you do think your page has been blocked unduly, you will need to contact Facebook directly to rectify the issue.
Although it may sound daunting to refocus your digital strategy, every strong business needs to be able to adapt to change. Like Elon Musk says “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”
If you need help pivoting digital strategy or would like to discuss what Facebook’s ban of news in Australia means for your business, get in contact with us. We would love to have a chat.