News Outlets In Australia Struggle With Traffic After Facebook Ban

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Traffic to Australian news outlets has plummeted since Facebook banned people in Australia from sharing links to news stories, according to a Friday report.

Since Facebook banned Australian news content Wednesday, traffic to Australia-based news sites within the country fell by around 13%, the data and analytics technology company Chartbeat found according to Axios. Traffic to the country’s news sites that came from outside Australia fell by about 30%.

The drop in traffic is a testament to the power of Facebook to drive traffic for news outlets. Last year, the company said that about 5.1 million free referrals to Australian news sites came from Facebook – traffic that is worth an estimated $407 million, Axios reported. (RELATED: Morning Joe Identifies Democracy’s Greatest Threat, And It’s Not Donald Trump)

Facebook decided Wednesday to stop allowing users to share or view news content in Australia and prevent users around the world from sharing links to Australian news outlets. The move came in response to Australia’s proposed “Media Bargaining law,” which would force Facebook and Google to compensate news outlets when links to the content show up on their website.

“We’ve long worked toward rules that would encourage innovation and collaboration between digital platforms and news organisations,” Facebook said in a Wednesday press release. “Unfortunately this legislation does not do that. Instead it seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for.”

The tech company said that they were prepared to increase investments in news outlets and launch its new service, Facebook News, in Australia “with the right rules in place.” (RELATED: Google Admits It Has Run ‘Experiments’ To Hide News Sites From Consumers)

“This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid,” Facebook wrote. “We will now prioritise investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences.”