Tech giants, Facebook and Google face strict new rules enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) when dealing with Australian news media publications. In an industry first, the new code of conduct will provide some respite for news media publications struggling from the decrease in advertising revenue as a result of consumers reading content within Facebook, and not the publishers site.

The ACCC found that Facebook and Google were unavoidable trading partners, raising concerns of a power imbalance. The Australian government instructed the ACCC to form a new code of conduct, following Google and Facebook’s inability to come to the table with a voluntary code of conduct in July last year.

Game Changer: News Publishers & Facebook / Google have 3 months to mutually agree on a new, mandatory code together. If they cannot, an independent juror would decide on the most reasonable offer. Yet, some media publications are calling for Facebook & Google to pay 10% of all advertising revenue made off news articles, amounting to a cool $600 million (and that’s just AU). Let the battle commence…

What does the code mean for data usage? 
The code also extends to other issues, for example the code would require Google and Facebook to notify news sites of algorithm changes that would affect referral traffic, advertising or the presentation of news content.
Platforms would also be required to be transparent on the collection of user data via interaction with news media; how long readers remain on the article, how many articles they read and other relevant engagement information. On top of this, Google and Facebook would need to allow news media to toggle comments on and off articles and exclude their content from being included on digital platforms.

Media companies could put Google and Facebook on notice
Under the new provisions, the media companies can join together to enhance their negotiating position in an attempt to give more autonomy to small media businesses. Under the plan actioned by the ACCC, media outlets can negotiate with the platforms for a fair price of news and content. This code has come at a time in the industry where news sites and media outlets need support and regulation; ACCC believe COVID-19 has been a stimulus for the code to be implemented sooner than originally anticipated.