Facebook cuts-off news sharing in Australia

Australia is on the verge of implementing a controversial law that would require technology companies to pay publishers when users post their articles.

The new law has received backlash from two of the world’s biggest tech companies, Facebook and Google. In recent updates, the social media giant Facebook has restricted the sharing of news on its service in Australia.

The new restrictions from Facebook are the strongest stand yet against the new proposed legislation. The law would require Google and Facebook to pay publishers for their articles’ value on the digital platforms.

The whole scenario started when the news outlets started demanding payments, arguing that they should be fairly compensated for their journalism as Google and Facebook capture much of the advertising market.

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Facebook’s decision has a major impact on Australia’s news market as it blocks those in Australia from sharing news stories and stops users globally from sharing articles from Australian publishers. The company has cut Australia’s most widely used way of sharing news online and has cut off millions from accessing Australia’s new information.

But non-news websites, including government platforms for coronavirus information and weather warnings, and satirical pages, were accessible. The reason behind such drastic measures is not simply because of losing a share of their profit, but Facebook and Google have much bigger worries.

If the new law is passed in Australia and Google and Facebook agree to comply with it, then a similar structure would be observed in other countries that have been keeping an eye on Google and Facebook.

“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing. On quiet, sober reflection, they will start to become quite troubled about what that would mean for how that platform is received.”

Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s Treasurer, tweeted that, “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.”

William Easton, managing director for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, said Wednesday in a blog post, “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. 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.”

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