(The AEGIS Alliance) – Facebook announced on Thursday that it has blocked Australians from on its platform due to proposed laws in the nation to make digital giants pay for journalism.
Australian publishers are able to continue publishing news content material on Facebook, however, hyperlinks and posts cannot be seen or shared by Australian audiences, the U.S.-based company stated in a press release.
Australian users can’t share Australian or worldwide news. International users outside of Australia additionally can’t share Australian news.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Facebook regional managing director William Easton stated.
Easton continued and said, “It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”
The announcement comes a day after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described as “very promising” negotiations between Facebook and Google with Australian media companies. Frydenberg mentioned after weekend talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, he was satisfied that the platforms “do want to enter into these commercial arrangements. Frydenberg said he had had a “constructive conversation” with Zuckerberg after Facebook blocked Australian news.
“He raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our discussions to try to find a pathway forward,” Frydenberg tweeted.
But communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the government would not back down on its proposed legislation.
“This announcement from Facebook, if they were to maintain this position, of course, would call into question the credibility of the platform when it comes to the news on it,” Fletcher told Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC).
“Effectively Facebook is saying to Australians information that you see on our platforms doesn’t come from organizations that have editorial policies or fact-checking processes or journalists who are paid to do the work they do,” Fletcher added.
The Australian Parliament has been debating the proposed laws that would make the two platforms strike deals to pay for Australian-based news content. The Senate will consider the draft laws after they were passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday night.
Both platforms have condemned the proposed laws as unworkable. Google has also threatened to remove its search engine from the country. But Google is striking pay deals with Australian news media companies under its own News Showcase model. Seven West Media on Monday became the largest Australian news media business to strike a deal with Google to pay for journalism. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has since announced a wide-ranging deal. Rival Nine Entertainment is reportedly close to its own pact and ABC is also in negotiations.
News plays a larger part in Google’s business model than it does in Facebook. Some activists say Facebook is actually an online publisher and not a social media platform because of its overly aggressive fact-checking that adds content to the social media tech giant’s website.
Easton said the public would ask why the platforms were responding differently to the proposed law that would create an arbitration panel to set a price for news in cases where the platforms and news businesses failed to agree.
“The answer is as a result of our platforms have essentially different relationships with news,” Easton said.
Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Center for Responsible Technology think tank, said Facebook’s decision “will make it a weaker social network.”
“Facebook actions mean the company’s failures in privacy, disinformation, and data protection will require a bigger push for stronger government regulation,” Lewis said. “Without fact-based news to anchor it, Facebook will become little more than cute cats and conspiracy theories.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.