According to data from web analytics company Chartbeat, traffic to Australian news websites dropped in the hours following Facebook’s news ban and viewers overall have not switched to new channels.
In response to the government’s proposed new legislation requiring tech firms to pay publishers for news content, Facebook blocked Australians from accessing news content on its website at about 5:30 AEDT yesterday.
Chartbeat, a tool used by many Australian news outlets, including ABC, tracks the number of readers on a digital article in real time and how they relate to the story, whether via Facebook, Google search, hyperlink, or internally via the website or app of a publisher.
Its data, collected from around 255 Australian websites, shows that, in the aftermath of the ban, overall traffic to Australian news sites fell by about 13% from within Australia and 30% from overseas.
The percentage of Australian traffic from Facebook to news sites fell from 21 per cent before the ban to less than 2 per cent by midday AEDT yesterday.
The data shows a natural decline in referrals to Facebook as Australians on Wednesday night went to sleep.
As they awoke on Thursday morning, referral traffic climbed as usual but by 6:00am AEDT the rise had faltered until it tumbled rapidly after 7:00am as the outage started to have rolling effect.
During the peak evening time last night, Facebook referral traffic reported was approximately equal to what could be recorded on a typical day at 3:00 am.
The percentage of Facebook-driven traffic dropped even further for readers of Australian sites coming from outside Australia, from 30 percent to 4 percent.