Facebook threatens news sharing ban in Australia

Facebook threatens news sharing ban in Australia
A Facebook spokesman told that it will "provide specific details soon" on how it will enforce the ban. Source: PA WIRE
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: Facebook has threatened to stop users from sharing news content in Australia as the country prepares for a new law forcing it to pay publishers for their articles.

Regulators want tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay for the content reposted from news outlets.

Google warned its users last month that its search services could be “dramatically worse” as a result.

Facebook’s latest move to block news sharing has escalated tensions between regulators and tech firms.

Facebook said that if the proposed legislation becomes law it will stop Australians from sharing news on Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has drawn up the rules to “level the playing field” between the publishers and tech giants that it says are struggling due to lost advertising revenue.

In response to Facebook’s threat to block news, the ACCC responded to said it was “ill-timed and misconceived”.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: “The code simply aims to bring fairness and transparency to Facebook and Google’s relationships with Australian news media businesses.”

Facebook’s managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Will Easton, said in a blog post that the draft law “misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect”.

Mr Easton argued it would force Facebook to pay for content that publishers voluntarily place on its platform to generate traffic back to their news sites.

He claimed Facebook sent 2.3bn clicks from Facebook’s newsfeed back to Australian news websites which is worth around A$200m ($148m; £110m) during the first five months of the year.

He said the blocking of news “is not our first choice – it is our last,” adding that Facebook’s other services that allow family and friends to connect will not be affected.

A Facebook spokesman told that it will “provide specific details soon” on how it will enforce the ban.

Some business experts argue that tech firms should pay publishers for the quality news content that they repost.

Michael Wade, a professor at the IMD Business School in Switzerland and Singapore, said: “Google, Facebook and others have been getting away with giving it away for free for too long”

Facebook and Google do pay for some news content in specific markets, and said they plan to roll these initiatives out to more countries.

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