In an Unusual Move, Facebook Blocks News in Australia

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with a group of entrepreneurs and innovators during a round-table discussion at Cortex Innovation Community technology hub Thursday Nov. 9 2017 in St. Louis

Who's ? Canada Joins Australia's Anti Facebook Crusade Vows to Make Social Media Pay For News

The tech giant's intentionally broad-brush - call it antisocial - implementation of content restrictions took down a swathe of non-news publishers' Facebook pages, as well as silencing news outlets', illustrating its planned dodge of the (future) law.

"The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content". Apparently, it had taken a broad definition of the proposed law, as it didn't provide a clear guidance of the definition of news content.

Frydenberg said he had "constructive" discussions with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg after the blocking began.

Unfortunately, Facebook's summary removal of news from Australian feeds has resulted in the removal of a large number of non-news organisations, including emergency services, government health departments, various charities, satirical comedy websites, video game publishers, and even a host of global sports teams.

On Wednesday, Google announced that it had reached a three-year deal with News Corp., which publishes several news platforms in Australia, including The Australian, news.com.au and Sky News.

The digital platforms fear that what's happening in Australia will become an expensive precedent for other countries as governments revamp laws to catch up with the fast changing digital world.

Last year, Facebook announced it would pay US news organizations including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and USA Today for headlines.

Mike Davis, founder of the conservative Internet Accountability Project, said Facebook's actions in Australia showed why US lawmakers should strip Big Tech's legal-liability protections.

The large Australian news organization Seven West Media made a deal earlier in the week and another, Nine Entertainment is reportedly close to its own agreement. Both had threatened to cancel services in Australia, but Google has instead sealed preemptive deals with several outlets in recent days.

He singled out blocks on access to certain government sites related to the coronavirus pandemic, emergency services, weather reports and other issues as "completely unrelated" to the media code.

The tech giant has said news makes up just 4% of what people view on its website, but for Australians Facebook's role in news delivery is growing. Of course, many Australians did not find this news interesting.

Guilbeault said Google would still be subject to the new Canadian law, since Ottawa wanted an approach that was fair, transparent and predictable.

"People are looking at what Australia is doing", he said, noting that he had already discussed the situation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Canada's Justin Trudeau. "We will now prioritise investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences". "This is yet another egregious example of Big Tech monopolists, like Facebook, abusing their massive power - and further demonstrates why governments around the world must enforce their antitrust laws and end government coddling, like Section 230 immunity".

Now, Australia is joining France and other governments in pushing Google, Facebook and other internet giants to pay.

Google announced its plans to license news previous year and revealed a new product called News Showcase in which publishers can curate and decide for themselves how to present their content on the platform.

Google regional managing director Melanie Silva told the same Senate committee that she is most concerned with the proposal requiring "payments for links and snippets".

A spokesman for the company said: "Dominant online platforms are now a key gateway to news and information online".

"This has been a passionate cause for our company for well over a decade and I am gratified that the terms of trade are changing, not just for News Corp, but for every publisher", Thomson said in a statement.

In contrast, it said, "Google search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content".

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