Small businesses caught in the crossfire as Facebook shows its true colours

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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. 

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.

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Leela Cosgrove
Leela Cosgrove
7 months ago

Man, what a disappointment that even Smart Company – who I’ve always respected – are shopping this same, trash narrative.

Zuckerberg is evil, we all know that – and he’s also COMPLETELY RIGHT to stand up to the Australian Government (under the supervision of the reverse vampire who is Rupert Murdoch) on this.

And every website who financially benefits from the deal posting takedown content only further backs this up.

Serious new government needed
Serious new government needed
7 months ago

Eloise, very disappointed in this article despite it being labelled ‘opinion’. There is no mention of the fact that the Australian Government has decided to support big media to detriment of smaller business outlets understanding the full impact their decision and the proposed law will make. The Australian Government has shown they are far too arrogant and dismissive of the impact of their decisions in their management of SMEs during covid, ongoing support of large banks (despite the numerous compliance breaches, overcharging etc), large media and large corporates to the detriment of the far greater number of SMEs that actually pay their taxes and this issue.

Nol Wdwardo
Nol Wdwardo
7 months ago

Facts.

Journo writes article, publishes it on media website
journo knows media website gets 1000 hits a day
journo knows facebook has potential for hundreds of thousands to millions of hits a day
journo shares, by putting their work on facebook
journo is not employee of facebook nor a contracter
No contract or agreement exists between journo and facebook (tiwtter /insta/ whoever)
journo gets free publicity from facebook who direct readers to journos site
journos employer reaps in loads of cash from all the adds they put on their media website and articles.

So… media freeload off facebook/twitter/et al – BUT expect facebook et al to pay THEM ?

Something’s very, very wrong – if you think this murdochs law is acceptable.

But… I dont expect mainstream media to be honest about all the facts, after all, they are the ones who stood to get money for nothing

Written by someone who 1/ doesnt use facebook and 2/ still watches nightly FTA bulletins

Dissapointed Reader
Dissapointed Reader
7 months ago

Disappointed in this – expected SmartCompany to be more reflective of views held in the startup world.