Australian court rules media are liable for comments made on their Facebook pages

In a timely ruling, an Australian court of appeal has upheld a ruling that media are legally liable for defamatory comments made on their public Facebook pages.

The Court of Appeal Supreme Court, New South Wales, made the ruling on the matter of Fairfax Media Publications; Nationwide News Pty Ltd; Australian News Channel Pty Ltd v Voller. The claimant alleged that defamatory comments made on the Facebook pages of a few Australian newspapers were effectively published by the papers, hence they were liable for the criminal harm caused.

“A person who participates in and is instrumental in bringing about the publication of defamatory matter is potentially liable for having done so notwithstanding that others may have participated in that publication in different degrees,” said the ruling. “In this case, the applicants maintained Facebook pages and encouraged and facilitated the making of comments by third parties which when posted on the page were made available to Facebook users generally and were therefore publishers of the comments.”

“The appeal court has shown that Australian defamation law is completely out of step with the realities of publishing in the digital age, and how Australians consume news and information,” said a joint statement from News Corp Australia, Nine and Australian News Channel. “The decision fails to acknowledge that it is Facebook that controls its platform, including that Facebook gives media companies no ability to turn off comments on their pages. It is Facebook that must be held responsible for content posted by its users, not media companies.

“Today’s decision means the media cannot share any story via Facebook without fear of being sued for comments which they did not publish and have no control over. It also creates the extraordinary situation where every public Facebook page – whether it be held by politicians, businesses or courts – is now liable for third party comments on those pages.”

This case cuts to the heart of the matter of liability for anything that appears on social media. In principle it should be the commenter, not the platform or media, that should be liable for defamation, but that fails to take into account the amplifying effect of social media. It is the act of publication, more than the words themselves, that is harmful. So, on those grounds, this ruling seems to say it is the publisher, not the commenter, that is to blame.

The statement from Aussie media is clear that, in the case of social media, they consider the platform to be the publisher. They have a good point, especially since it’s only the social media that has the power to turn off comments. On the other hand, nobody is forcing those media to have a Facebook page at all.

That this ruling coincides with moves in the US to designate social media companies as platforms is especially poignant. Legally, someone has to be held responsible for the publication of illegal content. If media are responsible for material on their own sites, it would seem to be consistent to make social media responsible for theirs. This will probably move to the Supreme Court, where an important legal precedent will be set.

Facebook attempts to walk the tightrope on censorship

Having criticized Twitter for poking the bear, Facebook seems to be adopting a more nuanced approach to policing its platform.

Twitter’s decision to censor President Trump was an astounding mistake. Of course nobody, no matter how powerful, should be exempt from its policies, but if you’re going to single out one of the most powerful people in the world, you had better make sure you have all your bases covered. Twitter didn’t.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg recognised Twitter’s mistake immediately and announced during an interview with Fox News that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything people say online. Even his choice of news outlet was telling, as Fox seems to be the only one not despised by Trump. Zuckerberg was effectively saying ‘leave us out of this’.

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey responded directly with the following tweet thread, which at first attempted to isolate the decision to censor Trump to him alone, but then proceeded to talk in the first person plural.

Within a couple of days Zuckerberg posted further clarification of his position on, of course, Facebook, in which he noted the current violent public response to a man dying in US police custody served as a further reminder of the importance of getting these decisions right.

“Unlike Twitter, we do not have a policy of putting a warning in front of posts that may incite violence because we believe that if a post incites violence, it should be removed regardless of whether it is newsworthy, even if it comes from a politician,” wrote Zuckerberg. “We have been in touch with the White House today to explain these policies as well.”

From that post we can see that Zuckerberg is still in favour of censorship, but sets the bar higher than Twitter and doesn’t see the point in half measures. Worryingly for Zuckerberg, many Facebook employees have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure at this policy, apparently demanding Facebook does censor the President.


It’s worth reflecting on the two forms of censorship Twitter has imposed on Trump. The first was simply to fact-check a claim he made about postal voting, which linked to a statement saying his claim was ‘unsubstantiated’ according to US media consistently hostile to Trump.

The second superimposed a warning label over the top of a Trump tweet warning of repercussions for rioting, which reads: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” Clicking on the label reveals Trump’s tweet, which features the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

That was apparently the bit that was interpreted as glorifying violence, and yet a subsequent Trump tweet using exactly the same phrase has not been subject to any censorious action by Twitter. That discrepancy alone illustrate the impossible Twitter has put itself in (not to mention the fact that the labels don’t survive the embedding process) and there are presumably millions of other examples of borderline threats of violence that it has also let pass. Inconsistent censoring can easily be viewed as simple bias, seeking to tip the scales of public conversation in your favour.

For many people censorship is a simple matter of harm reduction. Why would anyone want to allow speech that could cause harm? The mistake they make is to view harm as an objective, absolute concept on which there is unilateral consensus. As Zuckerberg’s post shows, the perception of harm is often highly subjective and the threshold at which to censor harmful speech is entirely arbitrary.

There is clearly a lot of demand for extensive policing of internet speech nonetheless, but social media companies have to resist it if they want to be able to claim they’re impartial. There’s just no way to keep bias out of the censorship process. If they don’t, they risk being designated as publishers and thus legally responsible for every piece of content they host. This would be calamitous for their entire business model, which makes it all the more baffling that Dorsey would so openly risk such an outcome.

Facebook edges towards digital currency with rebranded wallet

Facebook has renamed its digital wallet Novi as it takes another incremental step forward with its Libra digital currency.

Despite there being much criticism and scepticism surrounding the ability of Facebook (or whether it should be allowed) to run a digital currency, the team has been taking tentative steps towards the launch.

Announced to much fanfare in 2019, Facebook lead a coalition of companies in an attempt to create a new digital currency which would be anchored to commodities to prevent volatility. It certainly seemed like a positive idea, but Facebook’s track record on privacy and data protection tarnished ambitions. Partners dropped out, regulators cast doubt on the operations and ambitions were scaled back.

Against the odds, the Libra digital currency survived, and the team persevered in a much more low-profile manner.

In April this year, the Libra Association announced it had entered into the first stage payment system licensing process, but the digital currency would be pegged to local currencies. It adds more stability but removes flexibility for the team. The creation of a new digital wallet is the next step in making the currency a commercial reality.

“Today, we’re excited to introduce Novi – the new name and brand for the digital wallet that will help people send and hold Libra digital currencies,” said David Marcus, Head of Novi at Facebook.

“While we’ve changed our name from Calibra, we haven’t changed our long-term commitment to helping people around the world access affordable financial services. Whether you’re sending money home to support the family members who supported you, or you’re receiving money from your friends no matter where they are, the Novi wallet will make money work better for everyone.”

Some might wonder why Facebook is interested in digital currencies, and while there are of course many reasons, there are two which we think are most important.

Firstly, why not?

Facebook is a company which likes making money, and when there is an opportunity to make money, why shouldn’t it try. Entering into the financial services market would diversify revenues to create a healthier business. Every organisation wants to branch out into new areas, these are capitalist organisations after all.

Secondly, it adds more opportunity for the social media platform.

With Western markets largely reaching saturation point for advertising on Facebook’s core social media platform, new revenues will have to be sought from new regions. Some of those were there is potential lack traditional banking infrastructure. If they have access to digital infrastructure however, the introduction of digital currency means Facebook can make money off these users without traditional banking facilities.

The Libra mission is gradually making progress, and while it might not be the biggest of celebrations from Facebook, perhaps that is the best strategy. Fanfare brought unwelcome attention last year, so maybe it is a better idea to quietly go about business and make a fuss when the ‘point of no return’ has been passed.

Privacy champion Schrems blasts Irish authorities over secret Facebook deal

Max Schrems, one of the central figures in bringing down the EU-US Privacy Shield, has penned an open-letter slams the Irish Data Protection Commission for not dealing with Facebook appropriately.

With his privacy campaign organisation, noyb.eu (none of your business) taking on the social media giant, Schrems has heavily criticised the regulator for a lack of action, shrouding investigations with mystery and secret meetings with the firm to create a ‘consent bypass’ situation.

“It sounds a lot like those secret ‘tax rulings’ where tax authorities secretly agree with large tech companies on how to bypass the tax laws – just that they now do this with the GDPR too,” noyb.eu Chairman Schrems said.

The ‘consent bypass’ was an agreement between the authorities and Facebook to switch its policy from ‘consent’ to an alleged ‘data use contract’, allowing the company to track, target and conduct research on users.

“It is nothing but lipstick on a pig,” said Schrems.

“Since Roman times, the law prohibits ‘renaming’ something just to bypass the law. What Facebook tried to do is not smart, but laughable. The only thing that is really concerning is that the Irish DPC apparently engaged with Facebook when they were designing this scam and is now supposed to independently review it.”

According to research quoted by the privacy advocates, only 1.6 – 2.5% of users were aware they were actually entering into a ‘data use contract’. Should these figures be anywhere near accurate, this should not be considered anywhere near good enough.

This entire saga is a bit of ‘he said, she said’ with mud being slung across the wall. On one side of the coin, it is not difficult to imagine secret meetings to figure out how rules can be circumnavigated, but it is also within reason to assume Schrems and his privacy cronies are exaggerating and making a mountain out of a molehill.

Schrems has stated his organisation filed complaints about Facebook during the first few hours of GDPR coming into action, however, the subsequent investigations have not been concluded. This is a fair complaint, these investigations do take time, but then again there has to be a limit. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in the UK has delivered dozens of rulings in this period while the Irish DPC celebrated completing the first of six steps last week.

Facebook is a very complicated business with operations spanning across almost every European nation, and while the Irish DPC has been designated lead regulatory authority for several high-profile names, it is not proving itself worthy of this responsibility yet.

Again, you have to take Schrems claims with a pinch of salt, but Silicon Valley is escaping without punishment. We find it impossible to believe all of its residents are acting perfectly within the rules. It would be more credible to blame overly complex bureaucratic processes, a lack of funding, steep workloads and people just not taking privacy as serious as they should; Silicon Valley’s residents at the top of the list.

A look back at the biggest stories this week

Whether it’s important, depressing or just entertaining, the telecoms industry is always one which attracts attention.

Here are the stories we think are worth a second look at this week:


Facebook reignites the fires of its Workplace unit

Facebook has announced its challenge to the video-conferencing segment and a reignition of its venture into the world of collaboration and productivity.

Full story here


Trump needs fodder for the campaign trail, maybe Huawei fits the bill

A thriving economy and low levels of unemployment might have been the focal point of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, pre-pandemic, but fighting the ‘red under the bed’ might have to do now.

Full story here


Will remote working trends endure beyond lockdown?

It is most likely anyone reading this article is doing so from the comfort of their own home, but the question is whether this has become the new norm is a digitally defined economy?

Full story here


ZTE and China Unicom get started on 6G

Chinese kit vendor ZTE has decided now is a good time to announce it has signed a strategic cooperation agreement on 6G with operator China Unicom.

Full story here


ITU says lower prices don’t lead to higher internet penetration

The UN telecoms agency observes that, while global connectivity prices are going down, the relationship with penetration is not as inversely proportion as you might think.

Full story here


Jio carves out space for yet another US investor

It seems the US moneymen have a taste for Indian connectivity as General Atlantic becomes the fourth third-party firm to invest in the money-making machine which is Jio Platforms.

Full story here


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Can the sharing economy (ride-sharing, short-stay accommodation etc.) survive COVID-19?

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Facebook reignites the fires of its Workplace unit

Facebook has announced its challenge to the video-conferencing segment and a reignition of its venture into the world of collaboration and productivity.

Back in 2016, Workplace by Facebook was announced, an attempt to diversify the Silicon Valley giants output and create a starting point to work with enterprise organisations in way outside of advertising. Much was made of the launch at the time, but it effectively dwindled away into irrelevance over the years as profits failed to materialise.

While none of the senior executives have paid much attention to the business unit, Workplace is very rarely mentioned by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, it has been bundling along in the background. After starting to charge customers for the service in October 2017, Workplace now has more than 5 million paid users, a fraction of rivals but it is admirable for a business unit which has not been given much attention or praise.

Last night would appear to be the relaunch of efforts to crack into a new market, capitalising on remote working trends being forced onto companies of all sizes around the world.

“The coronavirus crisis has forced us to rethink how we work,” said Julien Codorniou, VP of Workplace at Facebook. “Changes expected to happen over several years have happened in just a couple of months. And what many companies have realised is that it’s not about where your people are, but whether they are connected and informed.

“At Workplace we believe strongly that video will be central to the future of work – enabling companies to maintain community, while exploring the opportunities and diversity that flexible working can offer.”

This is of course a very relevant trend for today and could be even more so moving forward. 84% of Telecoms.com readers believed the work from home trend would continue following the relaxation of societal lockdowns, meaning at least some elements of the coerced digital transformation projects which have been sprint through today will remain in place.

Facebook might not be getting in on the ground floor of this trend, but the prior existence of Workplace and the power of the Facebook brand should be enough for it to muscle some benefits and business of the likes of Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom and various other businesses which are so richly benefitting from today’s adverse conditions.

As part of this latest push into the enterprise space, ‘Rooms’ has been introduced as a video conferencing feature, Live Video Improvements allows for Town Hall style engagements, Workplace on Portal likes the enterprise push with its consumer IOT gamble, Oculus for Business ties VR into the mix and Work Groups is a productivity and management toolset.

Overall, it is a solid effort to bring a broad set of functionality and features into a single offering, with the opportunity to tie into other emerging elements of the Facebook business. The first attempt to muscle into this market in 2016 might not have been very successful, but this one should certainly be taken more seriously by rivals.


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Can the sharing economy (ride-sharing, short-stay accommodation etc.) survive COVID-19?

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Facebook hopes new Oversight Board will resolve censorship dilemma

Facebook’s Oversight Board has announced its first 20 members and will start hearing cases related to content dispute later this year, but the fundamental problems with censorship remain.

Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post that the first 20 members of the independent Oversight Board. “The Oversight Board will have the power to overturn decisions we’ve made on content as long as they comply with local laws. Its decisions will be final — regardless of whether I or anyone else at the company agrees with them,” he wrote. “Facebook won’t have the power to remove any members from the board. This makes the Oversight Board the first of its kind.”

The selection process started with Facebook selecting four “Co-Chairs” of the Board, who then worked with Facebook to select the rest. The Charter decrees that after the formation of the board “a committee of the board will select candidates to serve as board members”. Ultimately the Board will have 40 members. Board members will serve fixed terms of three years, up to a maximum of three terms. The Board’s financial independence is “guaranteed by the establishment of a $130 million trust fund that is completely independent of Facebook, which will fund our operations and cannot be revoked”, it says in a press release.

The first Co-Chairs, Catalina Botero-Marino (Dean of Law School at Universidad de Los Andes from Colombia), Jamal Greene (Law School Professor at Columbia University), Michael W. McConnell (Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School), and Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Former Prime Minister of Denmark) wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times laying out their tasks.

When the Board starts hearing cases later this year, “Users will be able to appeal to the oversight board if they disagree with Facebook’s initial decision about whether to take down or leave up a given piece of content, and Facebook can also refer cases to the board,” the article said. “In the initial phase users will be able to appeal to the board only in cases where Facebook has removed their content, but over the next months we will add the opportunity to review appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content.”

There is almost an “over-to-you” type of sigh of relief from Zucherberg. “The Oversight Board will help us protect our community by ensuring that important decisions about content and enforcement are thoughtful, protect free expression, and won’t be made by us alone,” he said in his post. “I know that people will disagree about what should and shouldn’t come down. But I’m confident that the Oversight Board will make these decisions thoughtfully and fairly. I look forward to watching them begin their work.”

The Oversight Board may be able to take some of the trickiest burdens off Zuckerberg’s shoulders, but if he thinks he could wash his hands completely off troubles with the set-up of this Upper House, he would be wrong. The Oversight Board may find itself facing as many questions it cannot answer as those it can.

The fundamental question remains, as this publication has stressed more than once, who gets to decide what the right answers should be? While there is no dispute that 5G does not spread coronavirus, when it comes to issues we genuinely do not have a definite answer yet, the matters can get messy. Facebook has been actively removing Covid-19 related content not toeing the WHO line, regardless of WHO’s own dubious communication messages and conspicuous cosiness with China. Would the Oversight Board have upheld the content’s right to remain standing if it did not toe WHO line? Moreover, when it comes to “truth” about the novel coronavirus that caused Covid-19, if there is anything the world’s scientists could agree on, it is that we do not yet know much about it.

Another often disputed topic is hate speech. The Board expects to see “cases that examine the line between satire and hate speech”, but the definition of hate speech varies from person to person. The Student Union at Oxford University recently passed an “Academic Hate Speech Motion”, demanding materials it deemed harmful or “triggering” be removed and banned from the syllabus, which led to Richard Dawkins, an Oxford alumnus, retorted that, by the hate speech definition in the student motion, “history students can’t read up on women’s suffrage, or the rise of Nazism or Apartheid, theology students can’t read Bible or Koran”.

The University immediately rejected the motion and upheld the principle that “‘free speech is the lifeblood of a university.” Suppose the Student Union would ask Facebook to remove certain content it believes falling into its definition of hate speech but which by the definition of the University “enables the pursuit of knowledge”, would the Oversight Board side with the students or with the school?

In his essay “On Liberty” (1859), John Stuart Mill gave four reasons why opinions one does not agree should not be suppressed. These should still be our guiding principles:

“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.

Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.” (Chapter II, “Of the liberty of thought and discussion”)

The Facebook Oversight Board does seems like an honest attempt to establish a balanced, independent body for making censorship decisions. But even the most qualified, objective censors are still censors and, but definition, have to make subjective distinctions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ speech. Merely shrugging and pointing to the board will not absolve Facebook of responsibility for these decisions and won’t resolve the underlying paradox of platforms increasingly behaving as publishers.

Facebook poaches Ofcom gamekeeper

Regulation is coming and Facebook knows it, so it has reportedly persuaded Ofcom’s Director of Content Standards, Licensing and Enforcement to join the team.

The news comes courtesy of the Times, which reports that Tony Close resigned last week and was placed in gardening leave as soon as it became clear where he was headed. Close had been at Ofcom since 2003 and was most recently one of the people heading up Ofcom’s regulatory strategy with regard to social media, a role that became a lot more interesting when it was given new censorship powers earlier this year.

Neither Ofcom nor Facebook seem to have confirmed the move and we hadn’t received a response to our enquiry to Ofcom at time of writing. However there’s no sign of Close on Ofcom’s content board page, which seems to confirm he’s legged it. Facebook seems to have a taste for UK establishment figures, having nabbed for Deputy PM Nick Clegg to head up its government relations in 2018.

Close continues the rich tradition of public servants taking lucrative positions late in their career in the private sector to help navigate their former beat. He will be able to fill Facebook in on the latest thinking when it comes to regulating social media companies, something Facebook insists it welcomes, but presumably also wants to ensure doesn’t get in the way of business.

The regulation of big social media will be a defining issue of the next few years. They are supposed to be neutral platforms that allow public discussion without any editorial involvement of their own. Increasingly, however, pressure from advertisers, politicians and regulators has compelled them to take an active role in censoring their platforms to ensure the ‘wrong’ kinds of content don’t appear on them.

That kind of activity is associated with publishers, not platforms, but the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube still don’t produce their own content. That, along with the practical impossibility of editing every single piece of content before it’s published, means social media companies can’t be classified as publishers for the purposes of regulation.

So it seems clear that a new category needs to be created for services that facilitate publication but don’t produce their own content. Regulators would then need to create a unique set of rules and obligations for that category to abide by, such as parameters of acceptable speech, as well as a proper structure to protect the interests of those who publish on those platforms.

It’s very hard to see where the best place to draw those lines is. This publication would prefer minimal censorship combined with robust public challenges to contentious content, but we’re apparently in a minority. Mainstream sentiment seems to err towards a more censorious approach to ‘preventing harm’ and it will be the job of regulators like Ofcom to define that. Facebook has quite sensibly used some of its abundant funds to get a greater insight into what form that definition may take.

Facebook buys into Jio’s disruptive mission

Reliance Industries has announced Facebook will invest roughly $5.7 billion for a 9.9% stake in its telecoms and tech business unit.

Facebook is an internet company which is still overly reliant on a direct correlation between userbase and revenue growth, and India is a market with a substantial number of unconnected individuals. As one of the fastest growing telecoms and technology businesses in the second most populous country in the world, this is a smart bet.

If $5.7 billion is table stakes to get involved in the Indian market, it could be viewed as a fair price for Facebook to grow its userbase from roughly 300,000. With an estimated population of 819 million aged between 15-64, there is massive potential for growth for the social media giant.

And as a disruptive, fast-growing telco, with side-bets in smartphones, IOT devices, cloud, edge computing, AI, big data and healthcare, Reliance Jio certainly has the ambition which could match Facebook.

Changing fortunes in Indian telecoms market (2018-2019)
Telco Market share** Subscriptions* Year-on-year
Reliance Jio 32.14% 370,000,000 24.3%
Bharti Airtel 28.43% 287,591,000 (1.2%)
Vodafone Idea 28.89% 304,000,000 (27.3%)
BSNL 10.26% 118,025,372 3.2%

* Omdia World Information Series

** Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data

In the press materials, Reliance Jio has stated the focus will be India’s 60 million micro, small and medium businesses, 120 million farmers and 30 million small merchants, suggesting WhatsApp could play a significant role. As a country which lacks wide-spread traditional banking facilities, alternative digital payment platforms are a hotbed of potential.

While Google, Apple, Tencent and numerous others are already eyeing this opportunity, this tie-up with Reliance Jio could provide a material advantage. For example, as part of the partnership Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail and WhatsApp will enter into a commercial partnership agreement to further accelerate the JioMart platform. This direct link to existing Jio customers is a very attractive proposition for the WhatsApp enterprise team.

“When Reliance launched Jio in 2016, we were driven by the dream of India’s Digital Sarvodaya – India’s Inclusive Digital Rise to improve the quality of life of every single Indian and to propel India as the world’s leading Digital Society,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and MD of Reliance Industries.

“All of us at Reliance are therefore humbled by the opportunity to welcome Facebook as our long-term partner in continuing to grow and transform the digital ecosystem of India for the benefit of all Indians.”

As an investment, this transaction fits in perfectly with the overarching Facebook mission to ensure more individuals are brought into the digital society.

While Reliance Jio is a mainstay of the telecoms fraternity nowadays, it wasn’t long ago it was a major disruption to the Indian telco industry, offering radically reduced data tariffs to the masses. It democratised connectivity for Indian consumers, set against a backdrop which had become a very stagnant industry. Like investments in the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), the Libra digital currency and Peruvian telco Internet para Todos Perú (IpT Peru), the objective for Facebook is to bring connectivity to more people.

The TIP mission is to commoditise network infrastructure to bring down the price of deploying equipment in developing markets and rural environments, while the Libra stablecoin creates an entry point to the digital economy for those who lack traditional banking facilities, and IpT Peru is bringing the internet to unconnected communities with OpenRAN infrastructure. Reliance Jio is another company which is helping to connect the unconnected, but why should Facebook care so much?

Facebook revenue streams (2016-2019, year-end)
Year Advertising Other Split (%)
2019 69,655 1,042 98.5/1.5
2018 55,013 825 98.5/1.5
2017 39,942 711 98.2/1.8
2016 26,885 753 97.2/2.8

Facebook investor relations (revenues in millions USD – $)

Although Facebook has been attempting to diversify its revenue streams, the majority is still attributable to the core advertising business. This is a unit which relies on the userbase; there are only so many ads which can be served to an individual before the experience is impacted. To ensure revenues grow but users are not irritated by an overly commercialised platforms, new users need to be attracted to the platform.

In the developed markets, Facebook is reaching saturation point. It will have to add additional services in these markets to continue growing revenues, as well as attract users to the platform in the developing markets.

The financial growth which Facebook has demonstrated year-on-year is quite remarkable, though this is largely due to the core advertising business. The social media giant has largely failed to drive into new markets, with many acquisitions still waiting to pay dividends. The $16 billion WhatsApp acquisition is certainly one, but with the Reliance Jio partnership there is an opportunity to add a greater enterprise and payments venture into the mix.

Although the primary mission is most likely to expand the userbase for the core social media platform, the ambitious nature of Reliance Jio and embryonic stage of the Indian digital economy offers Facebook a significant opportunity to develop new ventures. This is a market which could act as an incubator for the diversification Facebook has been attempting for years.