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Facebook blocks Australian users from viewing news content

The social media giant is pushing back against a proposed law that would require it to pay to surface news links

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Photo (c) R Franca / EyeEm - Getty Images
Facebook has announced that it will block Australian users from viewing all news links on its platform. The action comes in response to proposed legislation from the Australian government that would force advertising giants (or "digital platform corporations") like Facebook and Google to pay news publishers for the right to share their content. 

In a blog post published Wednesday, Facebook argued that 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,” the company wrote. 

Australian Prime minister displeased

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Facebook’s actions “arrogant” and “disappointing,” and he vowed to keep pushing the company towards a resolution. 

"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,” Morrison said in a Facebook post.

"We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament" as the bill heads to a vote, Morrison added. "I encourage Facebook to constructively work with the Australian Government, as Google recently demonstrated in good faith."

Officials from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) also expressed disappointment with Facebook’s action and vowed not to let it deter them from pursuing their goal. 

"Despite key issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic having ongoing effects on all Australians, Facebook has today removed important and credible news and information sources from its Australian platform," the ABC’s managing director said in a statement. "We will continue our discussions with Facebook today following this development."

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