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Controversy on Facebook: what prompted the Australian Prime Minister to contact Prime Minister Modi? All you need to know

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday he discussed the progress of the bill on the media platform with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in a phone conversation the day before. The discussion took place in the wake of Facebook’s decision to block publishers and Australians from sharing or viewing news content on its platform.

The contested legislation, titled Mandatory Trading Code for News Media and Digital Platforms, is aimed at getting two big technologies – Google and Facebook – to pay content publishers to share news on their platforms. Announcing the decision on Wednesday, Facebook said the bill, already passed by the lower house of parliament, fundamentally ignores the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it to share news content.

This has left us with a difficult choice: to try to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or to stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we choose the latter, said William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand in a blog post.

What is the rationale for the code?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which drafted the code, identified an imbalance in bargaining power between digital platforms and Australian news organizations. The competition watchdog said in a report that organizations like Google and Facebook are more than just distributors or pure intermediaries in providing information in Australia. According to the ACCC president, the bill would equalize the imbalance of negotiating power so that fair trade deals can be reached.

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Here are some of the key pieces of the code:

The News Media Trading Code will create a framework for news media companies and registered digital platforms to negotiate financial remuneration for the use and / or reproduction of news content.

Digital platform companies like Google and Facebook will need to provide news businesses with a range of information, including advance notification of planned algorithm changes that will have a significant effect on referral traffic to content. news covered.

The law would require the two Big Techs to enter into binding arbitration with the media if they cannot reach an agreement on the value of the news content within three months. The arbitrator will take the final call between the payment proposals presented by the two parties.

Tech giants can make standard offers to information firms, especially smaller ones, to reduce the time and costs associated with negotiations.

How did Google and Facebook react?

Google has argued that the baseball arbitration model prompts publishers to make ambitious claims and resort to arbitration rather than good faith negotiations. He even threatened to take his search engine out of Australia if the government forced him to pay the media for their news content. However, the company reluctantly made deals with media companies, including NewsCorp, to pay for journalism.

On the other hand, Facebook has decided to tackle the problem head-on by not giving in to government pressure for the moment. Easton said the platforms have fundamentally different relationships with news content, pointing out that Google search is inextricably linked with news and that publishers do not voluntarily provide their content. He argued that publishers readily choose to post news on Facebook, which allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences, and increase ad revenue.

For Facebook, the news business gain is minimal. News makes up less than 4% of the content people see in their news feed, he added.

And after?

Starting Monday, the legislation will be debated in the Senate, which is expected to pass the law by the end of the week. Australia is mobilizing its support in its fight against Facebook and recent discussions with Prime Minister Modi, his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Boris Johnson are proof of this. Morrison told reporters on Friday that people are watching what Australia is doing and are already following that path, indicating wider support on the issue.

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