Facebook this week took a drastic step against the Australian government, restricting the sharing of news and viewing of news content in the country. The move comes after a debate over Australia’s Media Bargaining Code, a law that would compel social media companies to pay news publishers for links shared on their platform drew fierce criticism from Facebook and Google.
William Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand said;
We were prepared to launch Facebook News in Australia and significantly increase our investments with local publishers, however, we were only prepared to do this with the right rules in place.
This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid. We will now prioritise investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences.
Unfortunately, this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook. Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted.
The decision was received about as well as you’d imagine, with Australian PM Scott Morrison calling Facebook’s actions “arrogant” and “disappointing” in a statement shared on Facebook.
We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code. Just as we weren’t intimidated when Amazon threatened to leave the country and when Australia drew other nations together to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media platforms.
By way of contrast, Google did threaten to pull out of Australia as well a couple of weeks ago, but the company later relented and worked with news publishers for payment. News Corp shared on Wednesday that it had come to an agreement with Google which included “the development of a subscription platform, the sharing of ad revenue via Google’s ad technology services, the cultivation of audio journalism and meaningful investments in innovative video journalism by YouTube.”
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