Senate hears Facebook pays news publishers average of $100 a day to use content


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Global internet giant Facebook, which brings in $27 billion a year, is paying news publishers an average of just $100 a day to use their content, a Senate committee has heard.

Crossbench powerbroker Senator Nick Xenophon accused the social media firm of “damaging the integrity of news”. Facebook representatives denied the claim.

The Senate committee, looking into the future of public interest journalism, questioned senior Facebook staff over its use of content from news sites.

Facebook’s journalism partnerships spokeswoman Aine Kerr said it paid 10,000 publishers all around the world a total of $1 million a day, through a program called “instant articles”.

“With instant articles, if publishers choose to use that to distribute their content they keep 100 per cent of their revenue,” she said.

Senator Xenophon said that equated to just $100 a day for the publishers, while journalism jobs were being cut back in Australia.

He said Facebook appeared to be taking a long time to develop a pilot program meant to address some of the issues, particularly around news organisation subscription models.

“You’re taking a very conservative, cautious approach that’s damaging the integrity of news,” he said.

Ms Aine said the pilot program would be released by the end of the year and defended current practices.

“If someone shares a link to news content that is behind a paywall, they are directed to that paywall and then they have the choice about whether they subscribe for it,” she said.

Facebook’s $27 billion global revenue does not include expenses or payments to publishers, the committee heard.

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