Australians are being blocked from accessing news on their Facebook sources, in a dramatic escalation of the social media giant’s stance with the federal government.
- The move is in response to proposed laws that would force tech companies to pay for news content
- It would also prevent overseas people from sharing Australian content on the social media site
- The company says that “the exchange of value between Facebook and publishers goes in favor of publishers”
Australians who woke up this morning found that they were blocked from viewing or sharing news content from publishers’ sites, including news organizations such as ABC.
The social media giant said it did so in response to the government’s proposed media negotiation laws, which would force big tech giants to pay Australian media for their content.
The move also prevents overseas people from sharing Australian content on the social media site.
Treasury Josh Frydenberg wrote on Twitter that he had held “constructive” talks with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg this morning, while Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Facebook should “think very carefully about what this means for her reputation and attitude.”
Facebook said the proposed Australian law misunderstood the relationship between their platform and publishers who use it to share news content.
She said she faced a bleak choice between trying to comply with a law, or banning news content on her services in Australia, and “with a heavy heart” was choosing the latter.
The move came a day after Nine and Seven West Media reportedly struck a multimillion-dollar deal with Google for content usage.
“We understand that many will wonder why platforms may respond differently,” the Facebook statement said.
“The answer is because our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with the news.
“Google Search” is inextricably linked to news and publishers do not voluntarily submit their content. “
A Google spokesman took note of this claim, noting the growing divide in the technology sector.
“All publishers, along with everyone else, always have a choice if their page appears in Google Search,” they said.
The social media giant said it had explained for months that “the exchange of value between Facebook and publishers goes in favor of publishers which is the opposite of what the legislation would require the arbitrator to take”.
“Last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth about $ 407 million AU.”
The company said what it gained from news content was “minimal” and accounted for about 4 percent of what people saw in their news.
Google deals continue
Legislation implementing the proposed new media code passed the House of Representatives last night. The Senate is likely to pass it next week.
The code was created to ensure that media companies get paid fairly for using their content on search engines and social media platforms.
Major media companies Seven West Media, Nine and News Corp reportedly all reached content agreements with Google this week.
News Corp. and Google will develop an affiliate platform, share advertising revenue through Google’s advertising technology services, build audio journalism, and develop video journalism from YouTube.
The deal comes after years of public squabbling between Mr Murdoch and Google, most recently in Australia, where Google has threatened to shut down its search engine to avoid “unenforceable” content laws.
News declined to comment on the financial details of the deal, which it said included “substantial payments” from Google.
According to media reports, the Nine and Seven West Media deals are collectively worth $ 60 million a year.
ABC / Reuters
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