Facebook has restricted the reading and sharing of news articles for Australian users on the platform, following proposed legislation requiring tech giants to pay for news content worldwide. The company’s blog says Facebook the proposed law misunderstands its relationship with news publishers who share content on the social media platform, forcing the company to stop allowing news content in Australia.
“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,” said the company.
The move blocked Australian users from viewing Facebook pages of local and international news sites and several government websites. Similarly, Australians outside the country cannot access Australian publications via Facebook.
Following the development, the social media giant says it will also prioritize other countries as it prepares to launch Facebook News, following the “legislation [that] sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid.”
The Australian Competitions and Consumer Commission (ACCC) drew up rules that allow news companies to negotiate as a block with tech giants for content that appears on search and news feed. The code, which seeks to protect news publishers’ revenues, imposes penalties of up to $7 million or 10% of the company’s turnover for failure to comply.
According to AFP, Facebook and Google take the lion’s share of ad revenues in Australia. For every $100 of online ad spend, Google takes $53 while Facebook takes $28, leaving the rest for the others, including media outlets.
Its response to the proposed laws will also affect international publishers eyeing Australian audiences via the platform. While they can still publish news via the platform, Australians cannot view either links or posts.
On the other hand, Google cut a deal with media houses to continue providing its services in Australia.