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Hello Digital looks at the highlights from the week that was.

It’s been quite a week for politics, with the US presidential inauguration seemingly passing without drama or violence. People across the world have rightfully breathed a sigh of relief. 

Politics aside, it’s also been a big week in digital. From Wikipedia’s 20th birthday to further developments in the News Media Bargaining Code drama here in Australia, we take a look at the week in digital news.  

Keep reading for more…

Wikipedia celebrates its 20th birthday

Everyone’s favourite digital encyclopedia and widely disputed online authority celebrated its 20th birthday last week. After starting as a side project for a tech startup in 2001, Wikipedia now has over 55m articles across 300 languages, 1.7 billion unique visitors a month, and it’s the 13th most popular website on the internet.

As part of their birthday celebrations, the website commemorated those who have made it happen – people all over the world. Made and sustained by humans, the encyclopedia celebrated the human collaboration, creativity, and curiosity that has made it what it is today. With over 280,000 people editing Wikipedia every month, it’s hard not to be impressed with the collaboration and commitment people have to sharing information.

But having all of these human editors has made it difficult for the encyclopedia in one regard – it’s struggled to be an accurate and reliable source.

Wikipedia has been the subject of mockery by the mainstream press for years, with anyone being able to login and edit listings. For example, the encyclopaedia once cited that “David Beckham was a Chinese goalkeeper in the 18th century” and another claimed that Robbie Williams earns his living by eating pet hamsters in pubs “in and around Stoke”. Granted, a lot of these inaccuracies eventually get corrected by other editors, but it still brings the authority of the site in general into question.

But maybe that’s not the point. Their articles certainly make for entertaining reading and for the most part, it has valuable information about literally anything you can think of. Maybe just cite another source if you read anything suspect.

 

Google threatens to remove search engine from Australia

Will we have to say goodbye to Google? The search engine has threatened to pull the platform from Australia if proposed laws go into effect that would force it to pay news publishers for content.

There have been several other disputes between publishers and Google across the world, with the UK and France recently coming to agreements with the powerhouse search engine. 

Australia on the other hand has been criticized for having a heavy-handed approach with unfair codes being proposed by the Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

If these codes were to become law, Google would have “no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Google Australia and New Zealand VP Meg Silva told Australia’s Senate Economics Legislation Committee today.

It’s been a drawn-out battle between the search engine and the ACCC to find an agreement that suits both parties, and also those of Australian news publishers. 

The proposed News Media Bargaining Code law is still currently in draft and also targets Facebook alongside Google. It all started after a 2019 inquiry in Australia found that the tech giant was taking a disproportionately large share of online advertising revenue, even though a large amount of their content came from media publishers.

We’ll have to wait and see whether they’re serious about their threat, but it could have massive implications. 

 

Facebook asks for chance to make deals with news outlets in Australia

In the same vein, Facebook has hit out at the ACCC proposed codes and asked Australia to let it make content deals with news outlets before being hit with the media code. 

They have asked the government to consider giving digital platforms (like themselves and Google) a six-month grace period so that they can make deals with news publishers before hitting companies with the “big stick” of the bargaining code.

Atlassian, an Australian tech company, has also commented on the media code, telling the ACCC committee that they believed the code would “disrupt neutrality” on the internet by making one special class of media that gets payment for links in search results. 

 

Facebook is removing ‘Our Story’ section on Pages

Facebook has started notifying users that it will be removing ‘Our Story’ sections from Pages. It’s prompting Page owners to move their story description to the additional information section on the page instead, which sits on the left hand side of the page. 

It was a short lived feature for Pages, with ‘Our Story’ only added in 2017 as a way to help brands give more background information on their business, in the same way that an About Us page works on a website. 

Given the recent updates to the Facebook page layout, the move of ‘Our Story’ makes sense, but it will mean businesses will have to reassess their approach to better align with the update.