We’re about to find out just how important news is to Facebook’s audience and, by extension, to the social network itself. Facebook is restricting the posting or sharing of news content in Australia in response to the Australian government’s proposed news media code governing how internet companies pay for news content. At the heart of the battle is the critical business issue of internet companies’ ability to control content costs.
Facebook claims news accounts for less than 4% of the content people see in their News Feed. And it claims publishers get more out of articles being shared on Facebook than Facebook does. If that’s the case, it’s understandable that Facebook is opposing a law that would give an independent arbitrator the ability to decide financial terms if an agreement can’t otherwise be reached.