Facebook blocks Australia from all media content

Facebook has blocked news stories for Australian users just days before the government plans to pass legislation that would force tech giants to pay for media content.

Next week Australia plans to introduce legislation that addresses “bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media and digital platforms, specifically aimed at tech giants like Google and Facebook.

“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” wrote Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Facebook. “These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.”

While Facebook chose to block users, on Wednesday it was revealed a number of Australian media companies had secured lucrative deals with Google worth $47 million, despite the company threatening to cancel services in Australia last month.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has since announced a deal with Google.

“The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” a Facebook spokesman said.“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted. However, we will reverse any Pages that are inadvertently impacted."

William Easton, managing director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand said: “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.

He added: "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.”

Easton said that the reason it has chosen to block users, unlike Google, is because its platforms “have fundamentally different relationships with news.”

He said that Google Search is “inextricably intertwined” with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content.

“On the other hand, publishers willingly choose to post news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences and increase advertising revenue,” he added.

At a televised news conference, Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said:“Facebook was wrong. Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia.”

    Share Story:

Recent Stories