Since Facebook turned off news in Australia, these are the top-performing posts that have taken its place

  • Last Thursday, Facebook announced they were stopping Australian users from viewing, posting or sharing news on the platform as a protest against the Australian government’s proposed news media bargaining code.
  • According to Facebook, news makes up a small part of the News Feed — but it’s often among the most popular content on the platform.
  • Without news, posts from Australian satire and special interest Facebook Pages made up the top content on the platform.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Just before six o’clock on Thursday morning, Facebook took the nuclear option in their stoush with the Australian government over paying for news.

Last week, Facebook announced that they were removing news from their platforms for Australians in response to the proposed news media bargaining code.

The law, if passed, would force Facebook, Google and Australian news publishers to negotiate paying for news content unless they came to their own agreements.

While they had been threatening to do so for a while, the actual decision was sudden. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that the move took them by surprise.

The effect was immediate.

Facebook traffic to Australian news websites evaporated, according to data obtained from Chartbeat by Nieman Lab. (It didn’t extinguish completely because there are a few other ways that Facebook users are directed to Australian news sites, including website URL addresses in account bios).

This near-eradication of Facebook traffic unsurprisingly translated to a drop in consumption of news, according to Nielsen data obtained by Mumbrella.

Frequency of Australians visiting news websites and time spent on those sites immediately dropped by more than 10% that day.

While the long term effects of the ban remain to be seen — whether Australians develop habits of actively seeking out news or not — it’s clear the ban is having an effect on the news landscape.

What will be the impact of the news ban on Facebook?

With 50% of Australians getting their news from social media, the eradication of news from Facebook will cut that part of their information diet.

Facebook’s representatives repeatedly stressed that news makes up a small amount of the content they use: just 4% of the News Feed, they said.

Content from news publishers is consistently among the top-performing link posts (meaning posts that link out to another website) on Facebook.

Due to the algorithmic nature of Facebook, content that performs well is generally shown to more people. It is not perfect but can be used as a proxy what kind of content is popular and is seen by a lot of users. Facebook does not publish how many views content gets.

Without news, what is filling the vacuum?

According to data from social media analysis tool CrowdTangle, Australian News Feeds will be populated with more satire and specific interest pages in their feeds.

Business Insider Australia compared the top 10 link posts from Australia before and after Facebook’s news ban.

Prior to the ban, link posts from Australian news sources including Facebook Pages for publications and media personalities would, on average, make up a majority of the top 10 posts. Pages location is determined by CrowdTangle which looks at where the majority of the Pages’ admins are from.

Needless to say, almost all of the top 10 dropped from the rankings following the ban. (One non-English news page appears to have evaded the ban.)

The big winners were already popular satire pages such as the Betoota Advocate and The Chaser, which were briefly banned by Facebook’s wide-ranging content removal but restored shortly after.

Other top-performing content was special interest Facebook Pages with global audiences. Basketball shoe account House of Heat, parenting page The Healthy Mummy and owl admiration account The Owl Pages all made their way into the top 10.

While what makes up a user’s News Feed and what’s shown in groups is opaque, this measure gives some insight into the pieces of content and their sources that are excelling in the absence of real news.

Facebook’s top posts each day in Australia

These are the top 10 performing link posts for each day according to Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool. Days are measured from 6AM that day to 6AM the following day, due to the Facebook news ban coming in at 6AM on Thursday morning. Performance is measured by adding together reactions, comments and shares.

Tuesday, 16 February (pre-ban)

1. SBS Arabica24

2. Ozzy Man Reviews

3. Shammi

4. Hội Những Người Yêu Thích Underground Việt

5. Starts at 60

6. Peta Credlin

7. Sneaker Freaker Magazine

8. Memes With An Overall Lack Of Context

9. Courier-Mail

10. Betoota Advocate

Wednesday, 17 February (pre-ban)

1. House of Heat

2. Ozzy Man Reviews

3. House of Heat

4. The Owl Pages

5. House of Heat

6. House of Heat

7. 7NEWS Brisbane

8. 7NEWS Australia

9. ABC News

10. The Betoota Advocate

Thursday, 18 February (post-ban)

1. The Chaser

2. The Betoota Advocate

3. House of Heat

4. The Chaser

5. The Betoota Advocate

6. The Betoota Advocate

7. The Chaser

8. The Owl Pages

9. The Betoota Advocate

10. Hội Những Người Yêu Thích Underground Việt

Friday, 19 February (post-ban)

1. Ozzy Man Review

2. The Healthy Mummy

3. The Betoota Advocate

4. House of Heat

5. The Betoota Advocate

6. Basketball Forever

7. House of Heat

8. Boxing Day

9. बेनीअनलाइन – News

10. Sneaker Freaker

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