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Facebook blocks news content in Australia

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it will no longer allow publishers and users in Australia to share or view news content, in response to the new proposed media law in the country forcing big IT companies to pay for using publishers’ content.

“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”, William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, wrote in a blog post.

This means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook. Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted. To do this, Facebook is using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and it will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed.

In his blog post, Easton outlines the four categories that will be affected and in what ways:

  • Australian publishers: “They are restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages. Admins will still be able to access other features from their Facebook Page, including Page insights and Creator Studio. We will continue to provide access to all other standard Facebook services, including data tools and CrowdTangle.”
  • International publishers: “They can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences.”
  • Australian users: “They cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook or content from Australian and international news Pages.”
  • International users: “They cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news Pages.”

Easton argues that Facebook saw this measure as a last resort. The company cites statistics, like how news content makes up less than 4 percent of what people see in the News Feed and how Facebook drove an estimated AU$407 million in referrals to Australian news publishers, as reasons why it felt the bill unfairly penalizes tech platforms.

Facebook’s decision to ban news stories from its service in Australia stands in stark contrast to Google, which announced earlier on Wednesday that it has struck a revenue-sharing agreement with News Corp, so it can provide trusted journalism from its news sites around the world.


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