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Oz Government Pulls Advertising From Facebook As Social Media War Ramps Up

The federal government is pulling all advertising from Facebook in a move which could lose the social media giant millions of dollars.

After the Mark Zuckerberg-owned platform blocked all Australian news from the site in protest of the News Media Bargaining Code, the government has fired back by refusing to spend ad dollars – which could potentially cost Facebook millions in revenue.

Over the weekend, Health Minister Greg Hunt said his department would no longer use Facebook for advertising campaigns.

Today, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham confirmed the ban would be extended across all government departments in Australia.

“My expectation is that we will pull back from advertising while they undertake this type of terrible activity of pulling down sites inappropriately, seeking to exert power or influence over our democratic systems,” Birmingham told Radio National.

“We won’t tolerate that, we will be standing firm on the legislation and looking at all those advertising points.”

The government spend $42 million on digital advertising during FY2019-2020 and according to the ACCC, around 25 per cent of all online advertising expenditure in Australia is directed to Facebook.

The Facebook news ban, which saw the site block all Australian news from being shared last week, has impacted the audience numbers for outlets across the country.

Traffic to Australian news sites has dwindled in the days following the ban, with overall audience numbers falling by 13 per cent in Australia and 30 per cent overseas.

The percentage of Australian traffic from Facebook to news outlets dropped from an average of 21 per cent to less than 2 per cent late last week.

Facebook has not indicated when or if it will reverse the strict news ban. It quickly unblocked government-run pages such as NSW Health after users pointed out important non-news pages were inadvertently caught on the crossfire.

Meanwhile, news publishers around Australia have been working with Google to join its News Showcase, which was launched as a result of the News Media Bargaining Code.

News Corp, Seven West Media, Nine and The Guardian are among the outlets which have signed deals with Google to feature on the platform.

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