Home Business Facebook move to restrict Australian publishers was a ‘nuclear option,’ expert says

Facebook move to restrict Australian publishers was a ‘nuclear option,’ expert says

Facebook is trying to exert its monopoly power in Australia, by restricting publishers from posting content on Facebook Pages, according to Peter Lewis, director of the Centre for Responsible Technology at the think tank Australia Institute.

He explained that the social networking giant built itself up on the offer of free access, while downplaying the collection of user data and making money off that information.

“I think they are reinforcing their monopoly position in this part of the digital world,” he said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“It is sparking a conversation in Australia about what alternatives could look like – there’s no obvious corporate alternative,” he said. “Reimagining public digital infrastructure is a long game, not something that you can do overnight.”

Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Twitter Friday that he had “further conversation” with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and that they will talk again over the weekend. He said the government and Facebook will work to try and resolve issues that persist.

What happened?

“Google went towards the cliff a couple of weeks ago, threatening to shut down Search in Australia. Facebook’s jumped over the cliff. Where this all lands, who knows?” Lewis said, adding that the world was watching how this plays out.

While Facebook went for the nuclear option, like they previously threatened, Google struck prominent deals with major Australian media organizations.

Australia’s competition watchdog last year highlighted the enormous power both companies hold in the advertising space.

In a September report, it said that out of every 100 Australian dollars ($77.26) spent by advertisers online in 2019, Google took 53 Australian dollars, Facebook got 28 Australian dollars and only 19 Australian dollars went to other websites and advertising tech.

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