MENLO PARK, CA – Reports indicate that after an ongoing conflict with the country’s government, social media giant Facebook has announced that Australian users of their service will no longer be able to view or share any news content, be it local or international; the move has even affected several government websites, including ones that provide COVID-19 and bushfire updates.
The issue between Facebook and the Australian government stems from a new law that the country plans on implementing, known as the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. The law, if passed, would require services such as Facebook and Google to reimburse publishers if they host their content, and is seen as a response to social media’s role in damaging the business model of journalism in the digital age. Services such as Facebook typically make large amounts of digital ad revenue from hosting third-party news content.
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But where Google has agreed to begin striking deals with news publishers in Australia, Facebook instead went the exact opposite direction and has cut the country off from viewing or sharing any news whatsoever, a move that Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships, addressed in a blog post.
“What the proposed law introduced in Australia fails to recognize is the fundamental nature of the relationship between our platform and publishers,” he said. “Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook does not steal news content. Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook. I hope in the future, we can include news for people in Australia once again.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a statement posted ironically enough on Facebook, responded to the social media network’s actions, saying that his country will not be intimidated by “BigTech.”
“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” he said. “I am in regular contact with the leaders of other nations on these issues. We simply won’t be intimidated.”