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Facebook’s Australian showdown could backfire around the world

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The dramatic move by Facebook Inc. to block Australian news sharing has escalated a broader battle against global regulation. The gambit seems likely to backfire.

World leaders have already watched Australian law, which is expected to be passed next week. But this week’s sudden news blackout has forced the issue on a government agenda where regulators are already stepping up scrutiny of Facebook and its like’s growing influence in areas ranging from media to artificial intelligence. did.

“Australia’s actions are of global interest to the world,” said Scott Morrison on Friday, with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, and Britain’s Boris Johnson and Faith. He added that he had discussed the book. “They are already on this path.”

Facebook made a difference because it feared that a larger market would follow Australia’s leadership. From Europe to the United States to China, governments are addressing the question of how to regulate the world’s largest Internet giant. These giants have recently grown into trillions of dollars giants that help billions of people decide what to see, discuss, and consume on a daily basis.

The related issue of how to fairly indemnify news providers is a daunting task given the online community accustomed to free content. Still, the impetus to remedy the monopoly power of these platforms seems to be gaining momentum.

“The domination of a small number of gatekeepers online has disrupted competition, curtailed innovation and weakened entrepreneurship,” US Congressman David Sicilian of Rhode Island said in a statement Friday. .. He promised to undertake a law amendment to “restore competition online.”

The Antimonopoly Commission, chaired by him, will be on Facebook, Alphabet and Twitter Inc next week. I will hear the testimony from the CEO of. Facebook’s concessions in Australia could lead to these deliberations.

Facebook’s priority, with its share dropping 1.5% on Thursday, is now trying to amend the law. Especially because the politicians there are interested in finding something in common. Founder Mark Zuckerberg has met twice with Australian Treasury Officer Josh Frydenberg and will meet again over the weekend.

“We’ll see if there’s a way forward,” Frydenberg said in a television interview with Nine Network.

Facebook may be relying on Australia’s prejudice to mess up concessions from Canberra. The business benefits from news are “minimal,” and articles claim to account for less than 4% of the content users see in their news feeds. Still, it’s one of the most common ways Australians get news online.

According to Sensor Tower, the mobile Facebook app has been installed nearly 27 million times since 2014, accounting for almost half of the top five social media apps in the country last year with monthly active users. This reflects its global influence, and Facebook is the most used social networking app in all but five of the 84 countries tracked by research firms.

Globally, tech giants like Facebook are finding themselves increasingly drawn into political controversy. This tends to accelerate during the pandemic. The locked-down world is becoming more dependent on fewer Internet giants than ever before, many making money at the expense of smaller competitors.

In the United States, Google, Twitter, and Facebook ignited attempts to steer non-political boundaries through polarized political debates. Twitter has clashed with the Indian government over freedom of speech. As part of that, Facebook has shown a strong policy against Myanmar’s military coup, but only after the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on military leaders and publicly condemned their actions.

Older rules focused on pricing regulation no longer apply, as some of the big tech companies have established trillions of dollars in monopolies by charging consumers almost nothing. Technology giants are gaining an increasingly strong position in banking, finance, advertising, retail and other markets, forcing SMEs to rely on platforms to reach their customers.

The hustle and bustle of Australia touches on a wide range of themes as well. Open-web advocates like Jeff Jarvis have slammed the Australian government’s brute force approach, but others like Microsoft have publicly approved the move. Google has agreed to a three-year deal with News Corp and has shown little willingness to follow up on the threat of withdrawing search services from the country.

Facebook chose to escalate the fight, knowing that action in Australia could have a global impact. But for some, it could fall to dollars and cents for news organizations.

Techdirt founder Mike Masnick warned not to confuse widespread concerns about the power and influence of tech giants with the controversy over news monetization.

“The focus on Facebook and Google is irrelevant,” he said. “News organizations are almost (although not perfect) missing out on internet boats, effectively mocking the internet and doing little to prepare for the actual shift.

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