On Wednesday Facebook announced that it’ll block users in Australia from accessing news content on its platform, in response to proposed legislation that might force it to pay news publishers within the country.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the connection between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” William Easton, Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand director, wrote during a blog post. “They have left a stark choice for us plan to suits a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With an important heart, we are choosing the latter.”
Facebook would restrict people and news organizations from posting news links on Facebook’s platform, including international news content, Easton stated. It’ll also prevent material from Australian publishers being shared across the planet.
By moving forward with blocking news content in Australia, Facebook has made good on a threat it first levelled last year in response to a proposed law that might force the corporate to form commercial agreements with publishers to feature news content on its platform. The landmark Australian bill, which passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, appears bound to pass the Senate in coming days.
Google, which also would be suffering from the law, threatened in January to tug its Google Search from Australia if the legislation went ahead. But on Wednesday, hours before Facebook’s announcement, Google struck an affect Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — the most important publisher in Australia and Google’s most vocal critic within the country — to feature news on its platform.
Discussions and meeting has been going out between Australian ministers’ and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, over the weekend. Following those discussions, Australia said that whenever a news story link is clicked the amended law force payments from Facebook and Google to be delivered in lump sums.
The proposed law was first supported recommendations made by Australia’s antitrust watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which might adopt the so-called journalism Bargaining Code which conducted a study that found advertising dollars from the news sector. Other regions, including Europe and Canada, have since indicated that they’ll also pursue similar measures against the web giants.
Facebook appears quite conscious of the danger of other countries adopting the Australian measures. “This legislation sets a precedent where the govt decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, what proportion the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid,” Facebook’s Easton wrote.
He added that Facebook had been “prepared” to form investments in local publishers, but “we were only prepared to try and do this with the proper rules in situ.”
Google has started bending the whims more willingly towards the local regulators — last month it also signed an agreement with French publishers — Facebook has shown its prepared to maneuver forward with the nuclear option.
“I hope within the future, we will include news for people in Australia once more,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s VP of worldwide News Content, wrote during a blog post Wednesday. VP said that they are still focused on bringing Facebook News and other new products to more countries and that we haven’t any intention of slowing down.