Facebook vs. Australia: What are the implications for the UK?

March 2, 2021
3 min read

The conflict between Facebook and Australia might be over, but what does this mean for the rest of the world? We explore the implications for the UK and whether similar regulations could be introduced in the Northern Hemisphere.

What started the conflict between Facebook and Australia?

Last month, Australia passed a new proposed law forcing tech giants Facebook and Google to pay for news content published on their platforms. This has been strongly opposed by Facebook, blocking all news content to Australian users in response. Following a number of negotiations, Facebook agreed to reverse its decision, as the Australian government made changes to the law addressing some of the tech giant’s concerns. 

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Could we see the same conflict develop in the UK?

The extent of the conflict seen in Australia is unlikely to develop in the UK, but Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has said that they were “not ruling out Australian-style legislation to fix the imbalance in the relationship between big tech companies and news organisations”. This highlights the growing pressure that social media platforms are facing in the UK, and across the world, to offer more support – including direct financial support – for news publishers. 

In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is also calling for tougher regulation to curb the dominance of Google and Facebook over the digital advertising market. This is all alongside a growing trend demanding tech giants take more responsibility for the content uploaded to their platforms and to play a more active content moderation role. 

What’s next?

Outside of new regulations, it is likely that we will see more introductions, such as Facebook News and Google News Showcase, that focus on showcasing publishers’ work while offering more substantial monetary payment/rewards. For the tech giants, taking a more active role in promoting reliable news publishers will help combat negative perceptions about their roles in spreading misinformation. For example, Mintel’s consumer research shows that almost a quarter of people associate Facebook with misinformative content, significantly more than for the other major social media platforms. 

Such introductions should boost the reach of included publishers, especially well-established news publishers, such as national newspapers. 

Through new regulation and consumer pressure the balance of power between tech giants and news publishers appears to be shifting in a positive direction for publishers, creating greater opportunities for news brands to benefit from the massive platforms that play such a key role in how people consume news. 

Rebecca McGrath
Rebecca McGrath

Rebecca is Mintel’s Senior Media Analyst, specialising in areas such as consumption of news, TV viewing habits and social media.

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