Facebook may block news content from being shared on its platforms in Australia. Here’s why

Updated on Dec 08, 2020 07:21 PM IST

The Australian government has come up with a new code after the country’s competition regulator, the ACCC, said in a report that tech giants like Google and Facebook are more than mere intermediaries in the supply of news.

Facebook threatened to block publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on its platforms.(AP)
Facebook threatened to block publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on its platforms.(AP)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav

Australia is set to introduce a contentious bill into the parliament on Wednesday which could prompt Facebook to block news from being shared on its platforms Down Under. The government has come up with a new code after Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said in a report that tech giants like Google and Facebook are more than mere intermediaries in the supply of news.

The competition watchdog had noted that the tech giants are increasingly performing similar functions as media businesses, like selecting, curating and ranking content. Australia’s leading news publishers demanded that Google and Facebook should pay at least 10 per cent of the news advertising revenue to local new organisations.

The bill may force tech giants like Google and Facebook to share advertising revenue with local news companies and broadcasters. Ahead of the introduction of the bill, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stressed that the Big Tech firms must negotiate with local publishers and broadcasters over the sharing of advertising revenues. Calling it “world-first” reforms, the treasurer said that the law will sustain Australia’s media landscape.

“Our legislation will help ensure that the rules of the digital world mirror the rules of the physical world ... and ultimately sustain our media landscape,” Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.

Also Read | Australia to reveal laws to make Google and Facebook pay for news

Why Facebook may block news content from being shared?

Both tech companies have opposed the bill, saying it will impact users’ experience in the country. Facebook recently said in a blog post that the new regulation misunderstands the “dynamics of the internet”, warning that the law will damage the “very news organisations the government is trying to protect.” The social media giant threatened to block publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on its platforms.

“This is not our first choice – it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector,” wrote Will Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia and New Zealand.

How Google may retaliate?

Google Australia official had warned that the proposed code would force the company to provide Australian users with “dramatically worse” Google Search and YouTube. In an open letter, Mel Silva, Managing Director for Google Australia, said that the law could also lead to data being handed over to big news businesses.

“We’ve always treated all website owners fairly when it comes to information we share about ranking. The proposed changes are not fair and they mean that Google Search results and YouTube will be worse for you,” the letter read.

(With agency inputs)

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