The Australian Prime Minister of CANBERRA, Australia (AP) on Friday urged Facebook to lift its blockade of Australian users and return to the negotiating table with news publishing companies, warning that other countries would follow suit. his government by forcing digital giants to pay for journalism.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Facebook’s move on Thursday to prevent Australians from accessing and sharing information as a threat.
The blockade has intensified the fight with the government over whether powerful tech companies should pay news agencies for content.
The idea of shutting down the types of sites they did yesterday, as some kind of threat, I know how Australians react to that and thought it was not a good move on their part said Morrison to reporters.
They should quickly move past that, come back to the table and get it right, he added.
The public has been outraged at how the Facebook blockade has been messed up, cutting off access at least temporarily to pandemic, public health and emergency services.
Newspaper headlines included: No likes for non-social networks and Faceblock.
An article on how fake news would replace credible journalism in Australian feeds made headlines: Fakebook shows that all that matters is profit, not people.
Some non-Australian outlets also appeared to be affected, with posts disappearing from Facebook pages owned by Britains Daily Telegraph and Sky News. The two share names with media in Australia.
The blockade was a response to the House of Representatives’ passage on Wednesday night of a bill that would require Facebook and Google to pay Australian media companies fair compensation for the journalism to which the platforms are linked. Legislation must be passed by the Senate to become law.
Google responded by quickly crafting content licensing agreements with major Australian media companies under its own News Showcase model.
Rupert Murdochs News Corp. announced a large-scale deal with Google covering operations in the United States and Great Britain as well as Australia. Large Australian media organization Seven West Media also struck a deal earlier in the week. Rival Nine Entertainment is said to be close to its own pact and state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. is in negotiation.
Morrison said he discussed the dispute on Facebook with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. Morrison was also discussing the Australian bill with the leaders of Britain, Canada and France.
There is a lot of global interest in what Australia is doing, Morrison said. This is why I invite, as we have done with Google, Facebook to engage constructively, because they know that what Australia will do here will likely be followed by many other Western jurisdictions.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the minister responsible for the draft bargaining code for news media, had a phone conversation with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg after the blockade began on Thursday and again on Friday.
We discussed their remaining issues and agreed that our respective teams would address them immediately. Well talk again this weekend, Frydenberg tweeted on Friday.
I reiterated that Australia remains committed to implementing the code, Frydenberg added.
Frydenberg maintains that Facebook had constructive negotiations with the Australian media over wage deals just before the surprise blockade.
Facebook said Thursday that the Australian bill fundamentally ignores the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it.
Morrison said his government was happy to listen to them on technical issues, but remained committed to passing the law.
It’s not okay to defuse Australia because Australia is so friendly, Morrison said. We like to stay very friendly and it’s time for them to see us again.
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