What Facebook’s ban means for property

The real estate industry is not immune to Facebook’s latest decision to block the sharing and viewing of local and international news content in Australia.

Facebook spi

As of Thursday morning, Facebook has implemented a ban on “publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing” news, including property listings shared by platforms realestate.com.au and Domain.

While Facebook’s news ban comes amid Australia’s determination to push through a new media bargaining law, the social media platform appears to have adopted a blanket approach when determining the meaning of “news content”.

As such, listings platforms realestate.com.au and Domain having been classed as “news” providers, and therefore links from their sites – and consequently, listings – have been stripped from the platform.

In an emailed response to SPI’s sister brand nestegg, a company spokesperson for Facebook said: “The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content. 

“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted. However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted,” the spokesperson added.

According to Angel Zhong, an expert from RMIT University, the absence of news updates on Facebook will make it hard for investors to stay up to date with the latest developments in the market and the economy.

Speaking about the property market in particular, Ms Zhong said: “I would expect that this will cause delayed reaction and information asymmetry in property investing.”

Stay calm

Responding to news of the ban, Domain revealed it is in direct discussions with Facebook and through its major shareholder Nine. 

“We are hopeful that a resolution will be found quickly that is mutually beneficial to both parties,” a spokesperson for Domain said. 

“Unfortunately, Facebook has taken this position without prior notice, and with limited customer support,” the listing platform added. 

With the real estate industry clearly among those impacted by Facebook’s move, the CEO of Bespoke Media Group, Nic Fren, advised against a “knee-jerk reaction”.

“It’s an inconvenience, but it’s not the end of the world.”

According to Mr Fren, the action from Facebook should serve as a warning to agents against putting all their eggs in one basket.

“REA had over 662,000 followers and is now cancelled,” he said.

“Don’t put all your focus in the one platform,” he continued, advising it as “vital to build a profile on all sites in case of events like these”.

Facebook’s seemingly unexpected move to block news sharing and viewing in Australia was announced by its director for Australia and New Zealand, Willian Easton, who said in a statement that Australia’s proposed new media bargaining law misunderstands the platforms relationship with publishers who use it to share news content.

“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter,” said Mr Easton.


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