Look Who’s Back – But Does Anyone Care Any More?

Pamela Connellan
on 25 February 2021

We’ve all seen how Facebook has done a backflip and now – yes, they are allowing the sharing of Australian news. But some would say the damage has already been done. A large number of people have moved away from the Facebook brand and in the eyes of many Australians, this tech giant isn’t their number one go to platform any more.

Facebook announced it would ban Australians from sharing or viewing news on the platform on Thursday morning last week. (See our story here)  Hey – a lot can happen in a week. There was an outpouring of rage that Facebook would make such a move and many people communicated they would no longer be using the platform. Others listed the many alternatives to finding news on the Facebook platform.

Facebook’s move to ban the sharing of news was in response to the Australian government’s new media bargaining laws but other tech giants are negotiating this situation – including Google. Instead of taking this path, Facebook chose to take dramatic action and it wasn’t received well at all. The whole world looked on at our situation – knowing this is an issue they all share with us.

So why did Facebook backflip on banning news here?

Along with the backlash from the Australian public, our Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced several amendments to the media bargain code on Tuesday. These changes take into account whether platforms (largely Facebook and Google) have struck a deal with local publishers.

“A decision to designate a platform under the Code must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses,” Frydenberg said.

So this could have been part of Facebook’s reasoning when it stopped banning news. But others, including Brent Thompson, co-founder of a new Australian alternative to Facebook, LITT, say it could have been because Facebook didn’t anticipate there’d be such a concerted reaction to its ban.

“Facebook…. didn’t anticipate the camaraderie Australians have for each other”

As Thompson says: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook backflipped because they didn’t anticipate the camaraderie Australians have for each other. We look out for our mates, we support local businesses and don’t take kindly to foreigners dictating how we run our country.”

“Without Aussie news on their Facebook feeds, engagement was probably haemorrhaging and time spent on Facebook was also probably down. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also saw a significant amount of people finally using this as the reason to delete their accounts.”

“These are only hypotheses, but something drastic must have happened for them to end their ban after only 5 days,” Thompson says.

An alternative to Facebook called LITT is booming! LITT app

An Australian company called LITT is an alternative to Facebook and its been booming over the past week. Since the Facebook ban was announced last Thursday, the LITT app has surged with an 83% increase in Australians downloading the app.

LITT Co-founder Brent Thompson says: “Having received messages from loyal Facebook users and businesses, it is abundantly clear they are very eager on migrating to an alternative like LITT.”

He adds he believes the Facebook brand has been damaged irreparably in Australia and: “This is reflected in how much interest there has been in people downloading our app and investors keen to buy shares in our company.”

LITT is an Australian-owned social media app

LITT is a hybrid social media app which is designed to bring communities together while also supporting local businesses and community organisations. It has just finished its testing phase in Perth and is now rolling out across the country. 

LITT co-founder Peter Salom said: “If you’re an Australian that loves your local community – start sharing everything you love about your suburb on LITT. Start sharing news about your fave café, bakery, undiscovered beach, or why your town is the best in Australia. Not only will find a positive Aussie home grown environment at LITT we also reward you for simply watching an ad– a first in Australia.”

“We also invite all Australian media outlets to establish an LITT profile so they can continue their vital role in keeping the public informed – don’t be held to ransom like this again. LITT is community focused and local businesses are central to every community. Australia’s media organisations are themselves local businesses that keep their communities informed, ” he adds.

“That’s why we’re so passionate about offering a haven for businesses affected by this Facebook stoush. Australia’s newspapers, news websites, TV networks, radio stations and magazines are essential to our democracy. These media outlets provide essential public information to local communities across Australia. You will always be welcome on LITT,” says Salom.

Let’s talk about tax – the elephant in the room

With these tech giants like Facebook, there’s an elephant in the room and that’s how much – or how little – tax they pay. LITT Co-founder Peter Salom points out that Australian businesses and organizations spent $674 million advertising on Facebook in 2019, yet Facebook paid only $ 17 million in taxes in Australia that year.

Salom says under the LITT model, revenue from LITT will be booked onshore and the country’s taxes will be paid within the appropriate jurisdiction ensuring all stakeholders with the community are considered.

“Supporting local businesses is at the heart of LITT’s difference – the app combines the best of social, e-commerce, augmented reality advertising and digital payments – made via its exclusive in-built digital VISA card. This digital wallet allows people to convert their points from watching ads into money that they can then spend at participating local businesses. You can even top up your LITT VISA card and buy gift vouchers and coupons from your favourite stores and send them to your friends and family.”

Here are some statistics since last Thursday’s Australian news banning on Facebook:

  • 83% increase in new LITT members (7,673 new members since Facebook banned Australian news. Now totaling 16,865 users and growing rapidly).
  • 72% increase in new businesses signing up to LITT (170 new business since Facebook banned Australian news. Now totalling 405  businesses and growing rapidly).
  • Investor interest surges by 153% as 424 new potential investors have expressed interest via  LITT’s Expression of Interest (EOI) page.
  • There are now 701 expressions of interest in LITT’s capital fundraise.
  • #7 in iOS charts in Australia for ’Social Media Networks’ – (previously it was outside the top 100)
  • # 98 in iOS charts in Australia for all apps (previously it was outside the top 400)

For more information, visit www.thelittapp.com      

To invest visit here.

For more from Women Love Tech about all these Facebook antics, click here.



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