Facebook has said it will ban news if proposed laws to regulate it go ahead but Australians say they’ll simply go straight to the source, according to a new poll.
The poll, undertaken by research company Essential Vision, asked 1,076 Australians in an online survey their thoughts on a range of topics dominating September’s news cycle.
Key among them were their thoughts on Facebook and Google’s strong resistance to the Australian government’s proposed new laws to balance the playing field for news media outlets.
The laws, if passed, would see Google and Facebook required to work more closely with news media organisations and be forced to come to the table to agree on payments made to media for the sharing of their content.
Google lashed out against the proposals, filling its various services with warnings to users about the bill’s implications. While Facebook remained mostly silent on the issue, it indicated last week it would potentially implement a news ban on the platform if the laws pushed ahead.
Australians said if this did happen, however, they’d most likely go straight to the source, according to Essential’s report.
Thirty-seven per cent of the respondents said it was very likely they’d simply visit the news sites while a further 38 per cent said it was quite likely.
A quarter of the respondents said it was either not that likely or not likely at all that they’d visit the news site if a ban was to occur.
It’s important to note that the research also showed just how reliant on Facebook Australians were for their news consumption.
A little more than half of the respondents admitted to using the platform daily for news — the biggest age group being between 35 and 54 at 64 per cent. Following behind were the 18 to 34 and 55-plus age groups, both at 46 per cent.
The data suggests Australians, if true to their word, would not let a social media news ban get in the way of their news reading. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.
Young people aren’t united against big tech’s response
But it wasn’t all great news for news media outlets and the government.
While 54 per cent agreed that big tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, should support local media, it was the younger demographic that was less convinced.
Of the 17 per cent that disagreed that big tech had a part to play in propping up local media, a quarter of those were between 18 and 34 with a further 16 per cent aged between 35 and 54.
The 18-to-34-year-old demographic were also less likely to stop using Facebook in response to its tough stance against the proposed laws.
Out of the 35 per cent who disagreed they’d use the platform less if it were to ban news, 20 per cent of them, the majority, were in that younger age bracket.
While Facebook is seen as the boomer’s preferred choice of social media, the response tells a slightly different story — young people are less willing to take the government’s side in this debate.