Facebook says it will block users in Australia from sharing news if new rules go forward

Facebook says it will block users in Australia from sharing news if new rules go forward

 

 

Facebook (FB) is warning its users in Australia that it will prevent them from sharing local and international news if the country moves forward with new legislation that would force the company to pay media outlets for the use of their news content.

 

“This is not our first choice — it is our last,” Will Easton; managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand,wrote in a blog post Monday.

“But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help; the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector.”
The move marks another dramatic escalation of tension in Australia over the proposed law, which was announced in July.
Last month, Google (GOOGL) also expressed its opposition to the legislation; using its search engine homepage in Australia to warn local users that it would harm their ability to search and lead to “consequences” for YouTube users.

 

 

 

 

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The proposal would allow certain media outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with Facebook and Google; — and to enter arbitration if the parties can’t reach an agreement within three months, according to regulators.

That process would involve an independent arbitrator looking at offers from both sides and settling the matter within 45 business days.
Both tech firms argue that the legislation is unfairly skewed toward publishers; and would force them to pay news companies while the tech firms contend they already do plenty to support them.
Easton, for example, said that Facebook’s decision this week came after it had already tried
to work with regulators on ways to work more closely with media outlets.
“We already invest millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and; during discussions over this legislation, we offered to invest millions more,” he wrote.
“We had also hoped to bring Facebook News to Australia; a feature on our platform exclusively for news, where we pay publishers for their content.”
Those proposals were “overlooked,” he said.
Regulators, on the other hand, say the move is needed to level the playing field for the news media in Australia.

Since January 2019, more than 200 newsrooms across the country have reduced service; closed temporarily or permanently shut down, according to estimates from the Australian Newsroom Mapping Project, which is run by the Public Interest Journalism Initiative, a local nonprofit group.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg responded to Facebook’s announcement Tuesday, saying the reforms would help “create a more sustainable media landscape.”

“Australia makes laws that advance our national interest.
We don’t respond to coercion or heavy handed threats wherever they come from;” he said in a statement.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also fired back at Facebook’s latest announcement; saying in a statement that “Facebook’s threat today to prevent any sharing of news on its services in Australia is ill-timed and misconceived.”
For now, Google and Facebook are the only tech companies that would be subject to the new regulation.
But other platforms may be added in the future, according to regulators.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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