An independent bookshop in Sydney. A small brewery on the Gold Coast. A private group focused on shopping small and supporting parents. A prominent small business industry association.
These are just a few of the countless Australian businesses and organisations that yesterday woke up to find their entire Facebook presence had vanished.
After years spent building up their communities, and many paying to do so, they were left with nothing but their Facebook page bio.
If you needed an example of the perils of big tech yielding too much power, here it is, in the form of an own goal by a corporation with a well-documented history of handling crises poorly.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
And if you needed a reminder of why your business shouldn’t rely solely on Facebook when it comes to digital marketing, yesterday’s events are that too.
Some of the businesses that lost their pages have taken it in their stride.
Gleebooks, the aforementioned Sydney bookshop, tweeted: “We humbly accept this belated recognition of our role as a cutting edge news service.”
Dan Norris, the co-founder of Black Hops Brewing, offered a simple “thanks Facebook” when he discovered his business was also hit.
But the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia hit the nail on the head with its tweet: “Big business at it again”.
This is an enormous tech company flexing its muscles in response to proposed government regulation, which, if enacted, will be of most benefit to enormous media companies.
In this big tech versus big business debate, small businesses are, once again, the collateral damage.
Yes, these businesses chose to create Facebook pages, but the sheer size of Facebook means it has become, whether rightly or wrongly, essential for small businesses.
The competition watchdog found as much in its investigation into digital platforms in 2019. It also found a worrying lack of transparency and inadequate dispute resolution for businesses using Facebook.
Of course small media businesses — SmartCompany included — have also lost the ability to share content with their communities, and for those that rely on social media to get their voices heard, this very well could be make or break.
If you’ve seen Facebook’s recent advertising, you could be forgiven for believing Facebook cares about small business voices. Admittedly, it has given some small grants to businesses, including publishers.
But when it made good on its threat to block content on Thursday morning, it shattered any pretence that it cares about, or values, small business.
The jig is well and truly up.
Private Media, the parent company of SmartCompany, is a current participant of the Google Showcase program. Content from SmartCompany and other Private Media brands will be featured on Showcase as part of a commercial partnership.