Consumers are acting differently to the Facebook Australian news block

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 22 February 2021

Users of Facebook are acting differently to the news shutdown compared to previous outages at the social media platform.

ChartBeat, the content intelligence platform, tracked what happened in August 2018 when Facebook went down for 45 minutes. 

Consumers generally headed to publisher mobile apps, websites and search engines.

So, have Facebook users moved to other platforms, or direct to news websites, to get their news?

If they have, it's not showing yet. Traffic to publisher sites from Facebook dropped hard when Facebook closed the door to Australian news.

Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings shows total sessions for current events and global news category fell 16%

And Chartbeat data shows that Australian traffic did not shift to other platforms.

News publishers suffered. The most dramatic fall in traffic to Australian sites was from readers outside of Australia because that readership is driven by Facebook. Overall this outside-Australia traffic fell by more than 20%.

Chartbeat also saw a large drop in traffic to news sites from readers within Australia.

And it looked at referral traffic from Facebook vs. Google Search to Australian publishers.

You would expect to see Google Searches rise when the percentage of traffic from Facebook fall.

But the analysts at Chartbeat didn’t see an increase in Google Search traffic in terms of absolute numbers.

A shift to other platforms hasn’t been detected.

Chartbeat says Facebook’s traffic is notably strong in the Australian market. While 12% of visits to publishers globally were driven by Facebook, 15% of visits to Australian publishers were driven by Facebook.

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