Facebook Inc will block news content from being read and shared in its news feed in Australia, drawing a line in the sand against a proposed Australian law that would require it and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay the country’s news publishers for content.
Australia Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had a constructive discussion with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, adding the talks with the company on the proposed media payment law would continue.
Zuckerberg 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, Frydenberg said in a tweet.
Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan said, The changes to Facebook this morning are completely unacceptable. A number of important sources of official Government information have been blocked. This includes the national Bureau of Meteorology and the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services. We understand that these pages will be back online soon – which is extremely important.
I urge Facebook and the Federal Government to resolve this situation as quickly as possible. What Facebook has done is irresponsible and could have damaging consequences. A solution is needed immediately.
The impact was swift, with not only news organisations affected, but also health and emergency pages Australian Government pages on Facebook.
Shortly after, Facebook said it was working to undo some of the actions it had taken inadvertently. Australian Government pages are now available again – please follow them for emergency information if you don’t already.
Facebook blocks news content in Australia to fight proposed law
Australian Government pages should not be impacted by today’s announcement. The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content, a Facebook spokesperson said.
The Australian federal government has said it plans to put the legislation, which effectively forces Google and Facebook to strike deals with media companies or have fees set for them, to a vote in the coming weeks.
Google has also threatened to shut down its search engine in the country to avoid unworkable content laws even as it has secured deals with publishers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Brazil and Argentina for its Google News Showcase product.
On Wednesday, Google reached a landmark global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, owner of the Wall Street Journal and two-thirds of Australia’s major city newspapers, to develop a subscription platform and share advertising revenue.
Facebook said the proposed legislation fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between itself and publishers, arguing that news outlets voluntarily post their article links on Facebook, which helped Australian publishers earn about AU$407 million in 2020 through referrals.
Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, tweeted on Wednesday that the relationship was not as voluntary as it seems, and most publishers feel obligated to be on Facebook due to its dominance.
Facebook, which has long been criticized for allowing misinformation to flourish on its platforms, now finds itself in a peculiar position of also blocking the news media that has provided a fact check on false content.
Nobody benefits from this decision as Facebook will now be a platform for misinformation to rapidly spread without balance, said a spokesman for Nine, an Australian television network. This action proves again their monopoly position and unreasonable behaviour.
Starting on Wednesday, Australian users will not be able to read or share news content on Facebook news feeds, and Australian news publishers will be restricted from posting or sharing content on Facebook pages.
Facebook Blocks News Content in Australia Big media networks are in Fear
Fact is that many mainstream media are in Fear they will lose their monopoly on the market. I need to agree that mainstream News platforms voluntary push their news content at the platform instead of using the official websites.
Demanding special treatment or extra payment is surely not acceptable for privately owned many platforms.
Facebook’s decision is an escalation of a long-term standoff between tech companies and news publishers, which have argued for years that they are not fairly compensated for articles and other content that generate ad revenue for the technology companies. The tech giants have pushed back, saying that they are merely conduits for the content and that the proposed law in Australia is untenable.
The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content, William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, said in a statement about Australia’s legislation.
The Australian Government decision to push through the media bargaining code will disadvantage Independent publishers and will just boost the profit of Manin stream media corporations.
Code of conduct for digital platforms Media bargaining code
In July, Mr Frydenberg and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced the draft code for digital platforms.
Under the mandatory code of conduct, technology giants Google and Facebook would be required to negotiate with Australian media companies overpayment for news content and notify them of algorithm changes.
It followed a direction from the Morrison Government, in December 2019, to facilitate the development of voluntary codes to address bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and news media businesses.
The development of a code of conduct is part of the government’s response to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry final report to promote competition, enhance consumer protection and support a sustainable Australian media landscape in the digital age.
“What we’ve sought to do is create a level playing field to ensure a fair go for Australian news media businesses and that when they generate original content, they are fairly paid for it,” Mr Frydenberg said in July.
“We want Google and Facebook to continue to provide these services to the Australian community which are so much loved and used by Australians. But we want it to be on our terms.
“We want it to be in accordance with our law and we want it to be fair, and that is what has motivated us with this mandatory code.”
Who will be mostly benefiting from “Code of conduct for digital platforms Media bargaining code” only mainstream media. Not Independent media publishers or content creators. Facebook or any platform is not entitled to pay extra benefits or treatment. It is purely up to people that they like to read, paid subscriptions, advertising of any News platform / publisher websites, a TV broadcast is paying the cost.
Australian mainstream media are not willing to pay for the content of users they like to use. We give you free credit that your name will be displayed during the shot. But demands to get paid for content they are voluntarily pushing on platforms such as Facebook or Google. That’s wrong.
Many people agree with Facebook decision to pull down Australian News content from Facebook. If you like to read articles simply use the website.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has slammed the actions of social media giant Facebook as unnecessary and heavy-handed following the company’s decision to ban publishers and users in Australia from sharing or viewing any news articles on its platforms.
Facebook blocks news content in Australia to fight proposed law