The REIA has responded to Facebook’s decision to block news content from being shared and viewed in Australia, after the real estate industry landed in the crossfire between the social media giant and the government.
As of Thursday morning, Facebook has implemented a ban on “publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing” news.
But Facebook’s broad definition of “news content” has seen listings platforms realestate.com.au and Domain classed as “news” providers, with links from their sites – and consequently listings – stripped from the platform.
Responding to Facebook’s move, the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) said it is aware real estate portals, trade media and real estate member organisations have had their postings removed.
Conceding that Facebook has been an important channel to connect with Australians looking to buy and rent property, REIA said it is “currently assessing the situation”.
“As with COVID-19, for agencies and our customers, the show must go on,” said REIA president Adrian Kelly.
“Agents need to be aware that the changes will impact on all property social media campaigns as they are considered a news outlet on the platform and so activity will be restricted,” Mr Kelly added.
In an emailed response to SPI’s sister brand nestegg, a company spokesperson for Facebook said on Thursday: “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.
But Domain, who have had its page completely wiped on Thursday, is hopeful Facebook will reconsider its approach.
“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.
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.