In an Unusual Move, Facebook Blocks News in Australia

In an Unusual Move, Facebook Blocks News in Australia”

Facebook's move to ban Australian news contrasts with Google, which in recent days has brokered deals with Nine, Seven and News Corp, in response to the regulatory push.

Australia's government condemned the step, which also blocked some government communications, including messages about emergency services, and some commercial pages.

"Facebook's actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing", said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison - in a post on Facebook.

"These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them".

Facebook's reaction was not justified even if there are issues with the law, including the fact that it stands to benefit media giants like News Corp., said Elizabeth Renieris, director of the Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab. Facebook's show of strength, she said, is "really going to wake up regulators around the world". "We'll talk again over the weekend", Frydenberg said in a tweet.

Facebook blocked all Australian news content on its service over proposed legislation requiring it and Google to pay fees to Australian publishers for news links.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg remains determined to convince Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to accept the Australian government's media bargaining code.

"Playing this game in Australia is going to fill peoples' feed with misinformation", Tama Leaver, an internet studies and social media expert at Curtin University in Australia, said during an interview Wednesday with Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio Perth. It said its commitment to combat misinformation had not changed, and it would restore pages that had been taken down by mistake.

"The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content".

Overseas users will be unable to access Australian news.

News publishers outside Australia leapt on Facebook's tactics as evidence that the company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, can not be trusted as the gatekeeper for their industry.

More news: Democrats set to unveil Biden’s immigration Bill

The Australian parliament is debating the legislation.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: "This bully-boy action in Australia will ignite a desire to go further amongst legislators around the world".

The ban also removed content from three MPs in Western Australia ahead of a state election, prompting the premier, Mr Mark McGowan, to say: "They're behaving more like North Korea than an American company". "So, we're all behind Australia in my view".

Mr Knight said there needs to be a competition role across the whole social media sector in the UK. It claims that it doesn't want Australian publishers and users from sharing or viewing news on its platform.

Facebook shares traded down 1.1 per cent in premarket dealings on Thursday.

Both Google and Facebook had threatened to retaliate. The company also prevented the sharing of news links from Australian publications by anyone anywhere.

Also affected were several major state government accounts, including those providing advice on the coronavirus pandemic and bushfire threats at the height of the summer season, and scores of charity and non-governmental organisation accounts. Some were later restored. "People are looking at what Australia is doing", he said, according to AFP.

"This post can't be shared", the website said.

However, it appears that Facebook is not willing to pay for news.

The battle between the Australian government and the tech giants over a law which would make them pay for news content has been rumbling on for a while.

Lisa Davies, editor of daily The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, owned by Nine Entertainment Co Ltd, tweeted: "Facebook has exponentially increased the opportunity for misinformation, risky radicalism and conspiracy theories to abound on its platform".

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