Facebook announced on Wednesday (17) that it will ban Australians from sharing and publishing news on the social network. The extreme measure was a reaction to political pressure and a proposed law from the Australian government for the company to pay amounts to media outlets.
“The proposed law fundamentally confuses the relationship between our platform and the content producers who use it to share news. This left us with a tough choice: try to comply with a law that ignores the reality of our relationship or stop allowing news content to circulate on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter ”, says excerpt from a statement issued by the company.
The text, which was signed by William Easton, Facebook’s director in Australia and New Zealand, also accuses the government of being uncompromising about the issue. According to the social network, in 2020, approximately $ 5.1 billion of free referrals were generated for the country’s news companies.
According to Facebook, the measure is already effective as of today
“For Facebook, the commercial gain from news is minimal. They represent less than 4% of the content that people see in the feed. Journalism is important for a democratic society and that is why we have created free tools to help press organizations around the world innovate in their content for the public ”, says Easton in another excerpt.
The action will not only affect Australians, as the rest of the world will no longer see any kind of news coming from a vehicle from the country of Oceania. The giant also said that it has been talking to the Australian government for three years, but that unfortunately it was not possible to reach a fair agreement for both parties.
Closed enclosure for big techs
Since mid-2019 the Australian government has been discussing not only forcing Facebook, but also Google, Microsoft and others to pay amounts to the country’s media companies. Among the arguments, local lawmakers understand that the internet giants generate huge revenue from advertising on materials produced by third parties and that a small part of that money goes to those who produced the original content.
The proposal, which would create a “code of conduct” for tech companies, is being drafted with the help of bodies such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The pressure for tech giants to pay media companies has been strong in Australia
While Microsoft agreed to pass on values to media producers, Google and Facebook declined to accept any decision in this regard. Mark Zuckerberg’s company even threatened to block news sharing, as it did on Wednesday.