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Community & Business

23 February, 2021

OPINION - Battle of the likes

OPINION - Last week’s banning of news sites from Facebook was not just a lesson in which billionaire has the biggest cahoonas, it was also a lesson in capitalism.

By Phil Brandel

Battle of the likes

Last week’s banning of news sites from Facebook was not just a lesson in which billionaire has the biggest cahoonas, it was also a lesson in capitalism.

Initially Rupert Murdoch was getting upset that Facebook was making money selling advertising on a platform that uses his news as their content.

Mr Murdoch complained to the Australian government, and as with most of our governments what Rupert wants Rupert gets. Mark Zuckerberg on the other hand has no time for Australia, our government or Mr Murdoch.

Facebook has 2.74 billion subscribers. In Australia there are 13 million Australians subscribed to Facebook with only 9 million Aussies using it daily. We are just a small drop in the Facebook ecosystem and last week, we became that annoying mosquito that Mr Zuckerberg slapped.

The outrage was instant, with people claiming their rights had been trodden on, censorship and free speech was under attack as well as some un-original comparisons to the Nazis.

What everybody forgets is that Facebook is a private company, nowhere in our constitution or laws does in mention that we have a right to post to social media.

The big news companies are complaining that they should get a share of Facebooks revenue if they are supplying the content. The only problem with that theory is that the big news companies block their content with paywalls and charge for it. (unlikeThe Express, which is free, always has been and always will be.)

Maybe if they gave their news away for free they would have an argument?

In capitalism nobody has to accept your business if it doesn’t make sense financially and you have the power to shop wherever you like. The big news companies don’t HAVE to use Facebook, there was a time before Facebook existed and we still had access to the news. The news companies also have a plethora of other social media platforms to choose from.

Where Facebook went wrong was that they inadvertently blocked essential services and innocent bystanders like the BOM, Queensland Health and the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, most of which were back up in the next 24 hours.

The US Government has also stepped into pressure Australia to stand down.

A document with the letterhead of the Executive Office of the President said: "The US Government is concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players … to the clear detriment of two US firms may result in harmful outcomes."

When America says you’re doing capitalism wrong you need to listen.

 Big multinational news corporations now have a decision to make, use Facebook or not, the choice is theirs. As we are such a small contributor to Zuckeberg’s bottom line, he has shown that he is willing to lose the battle to win the war.

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