Digital Transformation

Facebook accuses ACCC of protecting interests of small media companies, not journalism

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 6, 2019 | 4 min read

Facebook has criticised the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) digital platforms inquiry for its ‘unprecedented’ proposals.

The report was launched to analyze issues about the digital advertising supply chain that could affect Australian advertisers, including how advertising is verified on platforms like Facebook and Google.

However, Facebook warned that the proposals in the report will restrict Australians’ access to online services and accused the ACCC of protecting the interests of a few small media companies, not journalism.

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Facebook warned that the proposals in the report will restrict Australians’ access to online services.

In its submission to the inquiry, Facebook wrote: “The preliminary report’s near-exclusive focus on protecting certain publishers from disruption and competition is at odds with the ACCC’s mandate to promote competition and protect consumers, and misapprehends the broader challenges facing journalism and news production.”

Other recommendations that Facebook is unhappy about is the report’s calling for third-party advertising measurement tools, comparing Facebook's adtech stack to Google and misunderstanding how advertising is supplied and delivered on Facebook.

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“The proposed level of regulatory intervention for the news regulator and ad regulator is unprecedented as far as I’ve seen,” said Samantha Knox, Facebook’s global associate general counsel for competition.

“We have serious concerns about the impact the two proposed regulators will have on Australian consumers and businesses.”

The social media giant also points to how the ACCC has admitted in the preliminary report that it has yet to determine if the recommendations would solve the ad industry’s measurement problems and how the regulator has called for the ad industry to provide feedback for its recommendations.

“Notably, the preliminary report acknowledges that the ACCC has not determined whether such third party measurement and verification tools have solved the problem it identifies. It is, therefore, premature and unnecessary to appoint a special government ad regulator,” said Knox.

Google has also submitted to the inquiry, echoing Facebook’s concerns and urging the ACCC not to see it as a social media platform.

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