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Facebook swings banhammer at Australia news content over proposed law

By Dandi Galvez Published Feb 21, 2021 8:27 pm Updated Feb 21, 2021 8:32 pm

Facebook has blocked Australian users of its platform from seeing local and international news on their timelines in response to the country's proposed law in which the social media giant will be forced to pay news outlets for content.

According to a Reuters report, Australia's proposed media payment law will require tech giants Facebook and Google to pay the country's news publishers for their content.

The report further states, "Australian users will not be able read or share news content on Facebook news feeds, and Australian news publishers will be restricted from posting or sharing content on Facebook pages."

In a Facebook blog post, William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand says, "The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. 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."

Facebook's ban of Aussie news content started on Thursday (Feb. 18).

On the other hand, the BBC has reported that Google had recently struck deals with several Australian media outlets; most notably Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which said "it would be sharing its stories in exchange for 'significant payments'" from Google.

News Corp owns the The Sun and The Times from the UK; the Wall Street Journal and New York Post in the US; and Australia's The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and The Australian, among others.

Australian lawmakers came up with the media payment law in order to "level the playing field" between large internet platform companies and struggling news publishers.

Easton says that the law would "penalise Facebook for content it didn't take or ask for."

(Image from Facebook)