Thursday, 17 June, 2021


Facebook to block Australian users from viewing or sharing news

Chesnot  Getty Images Chesnot Getty Images
Melba Vasquez | 18 February, 2021, 03:25

Facebook has made a decision to ban Australian users from reading or sharing news on its platform.

As part of the agreement, the companies will develop a subscription platform and will share advertising revenue through Google's ad technology services.

A Google representative declined to comment on the effect of the Seven deal. The answer is because our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with news.

The social media giant said in a blog post the move was in response to the federal government's proposed legislation to create a news media bargaining code.

"Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted", it said.

Facebook's announcement came the same day Google said it had reached a deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which owns Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, to pay for its journalism.

Australia wants tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay for the content reposted from news outlets.

The government said it was continuing to talk with Facebook, and founder Mark Zuckerberg has already spoken to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this morning.

Facebook defended the move in a lengthy statement.

Despite amendments along the way, the Code has been branded by Google and Facebook as "unworkable" in its current form, and saw Google threaten to remove its search services from Australia entirely should it be adopted.

Marcus Strom, president of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the Australian journalists' union, said media companies have a moral obligation to revenue from the digital platforms in news gathering.

The deal with News Corp comes just days before Australia is due to pass a law allowing it to appoint an arbitrator to set fees if Google or other platforms can not not come to terms with publishers on their own.

Australia's political opposition will support proposed legislation that would force Alphabet's Google and Facebook to pay publishers and broadcasters for content, two sources briefed on the matter said.

Australians woke up on Thursday to find that the Facebook pages of all local news sites, as well as worldwide media, had been blocked.

While Australia's news market is substantially smaller than the USA, tech companies and lawmakers are carefully watching the proposal.

"This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid", Easton said.

Prospects for the bill, which the United States tech giants fiercely oppose, are being widely watched around the world as other countries are expected to follow suit if Australia is successful in its efforts.

"For now, we continue to be focused on bringing Facebook News and other new products to more countries and we have no intention of slowing down".

The study concluded that this posed a threat to Australia's print media.

News Corporation said it would be sharing its stories in exchange for "significant payments".

"It has always been incredibly hard for new players and publishers to build an audience on the platform since they made changes to their algorithm to focus on more personal news, but there are many other opportunities to grow an audience across other social platforms, through google and SEO as well as producing unique and engaging content".

Google's recent deals with Nine and Seven West Media give it greater control over the terms, compared with the forced arbitration proposed by Australia.

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