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Facebook Goes Nuclear On Australia - Blocks All News Sharing Across Continent

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Feb 18, 2021 - 02:45 AM

After Australia's government this week announced its intent to issue legislative changes known as the "News Media Bargaining Code" by the end of this month, Facebook in retaliation has said it will begin restricting news sharing on its platform in Australia

It comes a day after the current session of parliament vowed to implement the law by the session's close, which ends on Feb. 25. The code seeks to force major US-based internet companies to fairly pay local Australian publishers for use of their content. Last month Google threatened to remove its search engine from Australia altogether over the legislation, with Facebook backing Google's pressure campaign.

NBC describes the new code as aiming "to remove the digital giants' dominant bargaining positions by creating an arbitration panel with the power to make legally binding decisions on price."

"The panel would usually accept either the platform's or the publisher's best offer, and only rarely set a price in between," the report describes. 

Facebook issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

In response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content. 

The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.

Essentially Aussies will now be barred from posting, sharing or event viewing news content on Facebook whatsoever in a move which Google may soon replicate.

Facebook HQ in Sydney, via Facebook

The Facebook statement continues, "Over the last three years we’ve worked with the Australian Government to find a solution that recognizes the realities of how our services work. We’ve long worked toward rules that would encourage innovation and collaboration between digital platforms and news organisations."

"Unfortunately this legislation does not do that. Instead it seeks to penalize Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for," the company added.

It's the biggest escalation yet in the ongoing standoff between Canberra and the big social media and tech companies - particularly Google - which dominate some 81% of all Australian online advertising.

Facebook's full statement can be read here.

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