- Facebook prohibits news posting by Australian users over new law that forces tech platforms to pay news publishers for content
- Australian publishers can publish news on Facebook, but Australian viewers cannot view links
- The government of Australia said the ban threatened the “credibility” of Facebook
Because of proposed laws in the country to make digital giants pay for journalism, Facebook announced on Thursday that it has blocked Australians from reading and posting news on the platform.
Australian publishers will continue to publish news content on Facebook, but Australian viewers cannot access or exchange links and posts, the U.S.-based firm said in a statement.
It is not possible for Australian users to post Australian or international news.
Outside Australia, international users cannot post Australian news either.
William Easton, Facebook regional managing director said, “The proposed legislation profoundly misunderstands the link between our platform and publishers that use it to share news content.”
William Easton added, “We have been stuck with a stark choice: to continue to comply with a law that ignores the reality of this relationship, or to prohibit our Australian services from allowing news content. We choose the latter with a heavy heart.”
The announcement comes a day after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described Facebook and Google’s negotiations with Australian media companies’ as’ very positive.’
Following weekend talks with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive of Alphabet and its Google subsidiary, Frydenberg said he was persuaded that the platforms “would like to enter into these commercial arrangements.”
Josh Frydenberg in his tweet said that he had had a’ constructive discussion’ with Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook decided to block Australian news.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tweet further read, “He raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward.”
This morning, I had a constructive discussion with Mark Zuckerberg from #Facebook.
He raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward.— Josh Frydenberg (@JoshFrydenberg) February 17, 2021
Nevertheless, Minister of Communications Paul Fletcher said that the government would not step down on its legislative agenda.
Fletcher told Australian Broadcasting Corp, “Of course, this Facebook announcement will challenge the legitimacy of the platform in terms of the news on it if they were to hold that position.”
Adding further, Fletcher said, “Facebook tells Australians effectively that the content you see on our platforms does not come from organisations with editorial policy or fact-checking procedures or journalists who are paid to do the job they do.”
The Australian Parliament is discussing proposed law that would require the two networks negotiate agreements to pay for news in Australia.
The draft laws will be considered by the Senate after the House of Representatives passed them late Wednesday.
The proposed laws have been criticized by both platforms as unworkable. Google has also threatened the nation with the elimination of its search engine.
But under its own News Showcase model, Google is negotiating pay deals with Australian news media firms.
On Monday, Seven West Media became the largest Australian news media company to reach a deal with Google to pay for journalism.
A wide-ranging deal has since been announced by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
It is reported that Rival Nine Entertainment is close to its own pact and ABC (American Broadcasting Company) is also in negotiations.
In Google’s business model, news plays a greater role than it does in Facebook’s.
Easton said that in situations where the networks and news agencies refused to agree, the public would ask why the platforms responded differently to the proposed law that would establish an negotiation panel to set a price for news.
Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology think tank, said the decision by Facebook “will make it a weaker social network.”
The director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology think tank said, “Facebook steps mean that privacy, disinformation, and data protection failures by the company will require a greater push for stronger government regulation and Facebook will become little more than cute cats and conspiracy theories, without fact-based news to anchor it.”