Australian news app beats Facebook in App Store

Bill Mount

Take that Facebook.  A homegrown app from Australia Broadcasting Company (ABC) topped iOS download charts in Australia, outpacing Facebook.  That’s important for one big reason: Facebook just banned news from appearing on Australian newsfeeds in response to a law that would require the social giant to pay for news.  If […]

Take that Facebook

A homegrown app from Australia Broadcasting Company (ABC) topped iOS download charts in Australia, outpacing Facebook. 

That’s important for one big reason: Facebook just banned news from appearing on Australian newsfeeds in response to a law that would require the social giant to pay for news. 

If Australians really shift to using sources like the ABC app for news, it could represent a massive, positive shift in media consumption. Facebook has long been plagued by disinformation and bad actors, but a source like ABC actually vets information. 

“Features include: reverse-chronological feed; less misinformation than the leading brand; and the ‘stories’ here don’t disappear after 24 hours! ” wrote journalist Casey Newtown on Twitter. “I think it could have a chance.” 

A cursory App Annie search around 1 p.m. ET found that the ABC app was now second in free iOS app downloads in Australia, still seven spots ahead of Facebook. 

Facebook balked at the idea of paying for news because, as it wrote in a blog post, “the business gain from news is minimal” and that news composed “less than 4% of the content.” It insisted that while a platform like Google — which opted to pay news outlets — is irreversibly tied to news, publishers opt-in to using Facebook.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison felt Facebook’s action amounted to a threat to Australians. 

“The idea of shutting down the sorts of sites they did yesterday, as some sort of threat — well, I know how Australians react to that and I thought that was not a good move on their part,” he said to reporters

Still, it’s an encouraging sign that Australians seem willing to ditch Facebook as a news curator. The relationship between the social platform and news outlets has proven rocky at best, and consumers might just end up with a better product sans Zuck’s guiding hand. 

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