North West Telegraph

No likes for Facebook

- TOM ZAUNMAYR

You may have realised in the past week news from the North West Tele, Triple M Port Hedland and ABC Pilbara disappeare­d from your Facebook feed.

Well, Facebook decided to throw a temper tantrum over its refusal to pay for the news it needs to rebuild credibilit­y eroded by the endless tide of conspiracy, scandal, hate speech and disturbing videos it has allowed to go viral.

That decision is to the detriment of our democracy, and nowhere does it hit harder than in regional Western Australia.

While traditiona­l media — print, TV and radio — continue to set the news agenda for the week, there is no getting around the fact the overwhelmi­ng majority of people in the outback consume their news through Facebook.

As a regional journalist, it can sometimes seem we spend half our working week debunking (and occasional­ly proving) the rumours and myths peddled on moan and groan pages.

Without the news presence on Facebook these rumours can run wild, free from scrutiny by people paid (ie journalist­s) to prove or dispel them.

The Federal Government’s news media bargaining code seeks to ensure quality journalism — facts — continue to play a core role in public discourse as the way we consume news and spread informatio­n changes.

As tech giants hoover up advertisin­g revenue once shared by traditiona­l media, we need a new way to pay the companies dedicated to employing and training people to get the informatio­n you need to know out onto the platforms where you will consume it.

Google came to the party last week in announcing a partnershi­p with Seven West Media which will fund quality journalism and give you, the reader, greater access to news.

The search-engine giant made a point of citing regional WA newspapers by name in spruiking its benefits for news beyond the black stump.

Days later, Facebook took the nuclear option. In banning news it sided with conspiracy over fact for no reason other than protecting its staggering Australian profits, of which it pays little tax on.

So what can you do to send a message?

Follow your local journos on Twitter, bookmark northwestt­elegraph.com.au, use Google, keep reading your local paper, download The West’s app and tune into local radio stations.

It won’t hurt to decrease your presence on social media either. “I regret deleting Facebook” is a phrase I have never heard from the many people I know who have done so.

This is an assault by a foreign behemoth on Australian democracy — spending your time and money with them only supports their cause.

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