Facebook cancelled Australia (including #AussieHoops) today.

The Facebook news feed isn't great for Australia today.

The ACCC media bargaining code between Facebook and Google has been going on for a while, and things took an escalated stance today when Facebook announced their latest changes this morning, with regards to Australian publishers and Australian Facebook users.

The reality is, any outcome from the ACCC news media bargaining code does not affect small publishers like us, since we’re still more passion project and less media enterprise. The code (draft here, refer to page 5) is designed to benefit full-time enterprises whose annual revenue exceeds $150,000, and that’s not us (although we are a legitimately registered company that pays taxes and tries to do the right thing). No one on the team works full-time for The Pick and Roll. Everyone’s committed because of a shared belief in creating something that fills a gap in the Australian basketball landscape.

Facebook started out as a strong driver for organic reach to our Facebook followers in the early years, and it’s steadily eroded that aspect over time. We’ve been thankful for the presence of social media, and how it’s allowed us to grow a community of passionate fans who love Aussie hoops.

The reality is, we’re just as affected by the fallout that results from the battle between giants. Right now, our Facebook page is entirely throttled. The same applies to many other important pages that were likely not intended to be hit, like Queensland Health, Amnesty International, community pages and more. Even Basketball Australia’s Facebook page was impacted.

We been effectively deplatformed on Facebook by a blanket decision, over a discussion that feels like it’s designed to help media empires regain control over an outdated business model that’s not making sense in the modern era.

*Kudos to Facebook for blocking themselves too though (via Andrew Brown)

Google could have chosen to follow suit (instead of rolling out Google News Showcase in Australia, although the jury is still out on that) and wipe all other Australian news publishers entirely, had they wished to.

So where does that leave us?

It goes back to our decision to move to Substack and adopt a new mode of operation. To bypass the gatekeepers of modern internet, we turned to email distribution for our content. It was obvious that relying on organic social/search reach wasn’t sustainable - we were at the mercy of social media algorithms and search rankings, and fighting against bigger, better-resourced outfits in a constant fight for page views.

Social media remains an important channel for fun engagement, and we’ll continue to do what we have always done, within the constraints that exist. And search is critical as a tool for answers, because it’s just so deeply embedded in our digital lives.

But email is how we can best ensure our relationship with you stays intact, without the risk of being deplatformed.

  • It’s platform-neutral, and we can move off Substack and onto another provider if the situation ever calls for it.

  • No other company is going to dictate something like: only 10% of content emails reach your subscribers unless you pay a few hundred dollars to “boost” it.

  • There’s no complex algorithm involved either. The email goes into your inbox, and the only thing that stands between our content and you is probably the spam filter. (And maybe the risk of it getting buried under other emails.)

If we are to continue this approach and grow our audience, we need your help. If you’re a fan of what we have produced over the years covering Australian basketball, and if your financial situation allows for it, do consider becoming a paid subscriber.

We’ve kept it at $5 a month, or $50 annual (that’s still 50% off what we believe to be a fair price), so that it stays affordable during these challenging times. Think of it as buying the guys a beer, for the hours they put in every week to organise interviews, cut film, plan and write stories, and keep Australian basketball front and centre across our various media channels.

If you can’t, we still encourage you to sign up to our mailing list so you still get access to free stories outside of our paywall. We’d also appreciate it if you could tell someone about us and what we do, so that they can also join the community and enjoy the free content.

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Every little bit of kindness helps, and we appreciate everything that you do. Stay safe and well.

Kein and Damian