Hundreds of Australian informational pages, both from the media and private organizations and even emergency services, are blocked on Facebook as of this Thursday.
Will Easton, head of Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, explained that the blockade prevents sharing links from Australian publications, while preventing Australian users from view or share content Australian or international news.
Facebook has taken an uncompromising stance on a new Australian law proposal that blames the social network, Google and other platforms for paying journalistic content to the companies that produce it.
“The proposed law fundamentally confuses the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it to share news content. It left us with a difficult choice: to try to comply with the law that ignores the realities of that relationship or to stop sharing news content on our services in Australia. It’s with a heavy heart that we chose the second option ”, wrote Easton in a publication published this Thursday.
Users of informational sites trying to share news are already receiving an error message, which explains that they cannot do so in response to the new law. Users outside Australia will also no longer be able to share Australian media articles.
The block affected other services and profiles, such as Civil Protection, fire, health and meteorological services across the country. This is at a time when the country is on alert for flooding in the state of Queensland, where heavy rains have fallen in recent days, and in Western Australia, where the fire alert level is “catastrophic”, in addition to the covid-19 pandemic. .
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacted to this situation, saying that Facebook’s actions were “arrogant and a disappointment” and only “confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries have been expressing about the behavior of BigTech companies, who think they are bigger than Governments and that the rules are not to be applied to them”, he wrote in his account on Facebook.
“Facebook is wrong. Facebook’s actions are unnecessary, authoritarian and will damage your reputation here in Australia, ”said Australian Finance Minister Josh Frydenberg.
“Facebook needs to think hard what this means for your reputation and prestige (…) Right now, when there are already doubts about the credibility of the information on Facebook, it is obviously something they need to consider ”, said the Minister of Communications, Paul Fletcher, to the television channel ABC.
Google, for its part, is closing deals
Initially, both Facebook and Google, which threatened to stop operating in the country, repeatedly expressed their rejection of this bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives last night and is expected to reach the Senate next week.
Along with this attitude of Facebook, for its part, the company that owns Google, the most used search engine on the Internet, is closing deals with the media in Australia for the use of content, as recently agreed in France.
A News Corp, which holds titles such as Wall Street Journal (U.S), Sky News e The Times (United Kingdom) announced that it will receive “significant payments” from Google, under a three-year agreement to use written content, audio and video, which also includes delivery of advertising revenue.
Other media companies have also reached an agreement with Google, in the case of Seven West Media, and negotiations are still underway with the Nine Entertainment and the state company Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC).
Estimates by investment bank JPMorgan, based on a recent Google agreement in France, indicate that the Seven West Media could receive between 39.5 million and 69.2 million Australian dollars (25.4 million to 44.5 million euros) per year.