Facebook has blocked users in Australia from sharing and viewing news content

February 19, 2021 - 08:26 PM - 496 views

Facebook has blocked users in Australia from sharing and viewing news content in response to the country’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, highlighting the power that a tech giant can wield against a sovereign nation.

Under the Media Bargaining law, platforms such as Facebook and Google would be required to pay to feature news content on their sites. The law is designed to create a more level playing field online and offer a financial lifeline to news publishers that lose out to tech giants when it comes to online advertising revenue.

If the law is passed, news publishers will be able to negotiate prices with online platforms, and fines of up to AUS$10m, or 10% of the company’s local turnover, could be imposed if the law is breached.

This follows an investigation by the Australian government that concluded tech giants have too much market power in the media industry.

In a blog post, Facebook said that the proposed law “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content”. The Silicon Valley firm argues that by posting their content on Facebook, publishers can sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences and increase advertising revenue.

In response to the proposed law, it has stopped allowing news content on its services in Australia. According to the BBC, some government health and emergency pages were also blocked, but Facebook said that this was accidental.

Users outside of the country are also currently unable to access content from Australian news publications on Facebook.


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