Strike against Facebook by Independent Publishers

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More than 30 Australian independent media outlets will participate in #WaitingOnZuck (March 22), a 24-hour campaign in which they will refrain from posting news to put pressure on Meta to pay for journalism and content that appears on the Facebook platform.

According to a press release, the campaign’s title, which was created by social-purpose consultancy D.O.A. (Decade of Action), refers to the publishers’ expectation for Meta to “come to the negotiating table and make commercial deals that are transparent, fair, and pay for quality independent journalism.” According to the organizers, the blackout foreshadows a future without independent news if publishers do not receive a fair deal.

Broadsheet, Concrete Playground, Urban List, City Hub, Star Observer, Australian Jewish News, and Australian Chinese Daily are among the independent news sites that will have their news feeds frozen for the day and replaced with a direct message to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The campaign’s call to action asks Australians to send an email to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, expressing their dissatisfaction with the loss of the Australian news media landscape due to Facebook’s lack of accountability in dealing with independent publishers.

Frydenberg is presently assessing the performance of the year-old News Media Bargaining Code, which requires internet platforms to engage in negotiations with local news organizations. According to the campaign, while Facebook has negotiated with huge media companies, it has not done so with most independent publishers.

In a statement, Nick Shelton, founder, and publisher of Broadsheet Media said that: the unintended implication of how this code has been handled is that independent publishers face tremendous competition from our publishing peers who have negotiated arrangements. He further added that independents are finding it impossible to compete with the billions of dollars spent on talent, marketing, technology, and audience acquisition by giants like FB and Google. Facebook and Google have the ability to choose the winners and losers in Australian media, which is something that the Australian public should be concerned about.

The campaign specifically requests that the government classify Facebook and Google as platforms that must deal with publishers.

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