Australian news sites have seen their traffic drop by about 13 percent after Facebook decided to limit news sharing options in Australia. The number of foreign visitors who visited a news site via Facebook decreased by about 26 percent, the American data company Chartbeat calculated Friday.
Facebook took the measure because of an Australian bill. That would oblige the company and Google, among others, to pay for sharing news items from now on. Subsequently, Facebook pages of government services, charities and other organizations were blackmailed. Facebook posts in which people shared Australian news also disappeared.
The company said in a statement that government pages should not be bothered by the changed Australian users’ news sharing policy. Facebook does say that the term news is “a broad definition”, “because the law does not provide a clear explanation of the definition of news content”.
Politicians reacted fiercely and intend to pass the law.
Social media for part Australians primary news source
Chartbeat analyzed the traffic of about 250 Australian sites. It shows that the number of Australians visiting one of those sites via Facebook fell from 21 percent on Wednesday, when the restriction was imposed, to 2 percent on Thursday. Internet traffic via Google increased from 26 percent to 34 percent.
“When traffic through Facebook decreased, the overall traffic flow in Australia did not shift to other platforms,” said a Chartbeat spokesperson. According to a 2020 University of Canberra study, 21 percent of Australians use social media as their primary source of news and 39 percent of the population use Facebook to consume news.