Thursday, February 25, 2021

Facebook blocks Aussie users from viewing or sharing news amid legal dispute

A new Australian law wants tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay for content reposted from news outlets.

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Facebook has blocked Australian users from sharing or viewing news content on their platform amid a legal dispute with the Australian government.

A new law wants tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay for content reposted from news outlets.

Facebook says this “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers”.

Australians woke up on Thursday to find that the Facebook pages of all national news sites, as well as international media, had been blocked.

Australia’s government has strongly criticised the move, saying it threatens the “credibility” of the platform.

The action has affected the accounts of several government agencies including Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, police and emergency services and other non-news organisations.

Canberra has said it is proceeding with the new law, which passed parliament’s lower house on Wednesday.

“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing,” Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told the ABC.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tweeted that he had had a “constructive” discussion with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, saying: “He raised a few remaining issues with the government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward,” he said.

Facebook’s announcement came hours after Google agreed to pay Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for content from news sites across its media empire.

Facebook does already pay for some news. It has entered into commercial deals with media companies in the UK, for example.

However, the American social media mega-tech giant does not want governments telling them they have to pay for news and even setting the price.

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