Facebook blocks Australians from viewing and sharing news content on its platform

Facebook has blocked access to all news content on its platform from Australians users in response to a proposed law in Australia which require tech giants to pay for news content that appears on their feed.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Facebook announced in a statement released yesterday. “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,” it adds.

The move has caused the Australian government to question Facebook’s credibility as the public’s access to key information has been denied via its platform.

“There’s been a climate the last two or three years of thinking Facebook isn’t doing as good a job of looking after people as it should and I think, whether intentional or not, also blocking emergency services websites and things like that in Australia is a really bad idea in a time of bushfires and COVID,” said Tama Leaver, a professor of internet studied at Curtin University Australia, to Reuters.

“Facebook is 17 years old so it’s a petulant late teenager and behaving accordingly, but when you’ve got global communication as part of what happens on your platform, you don’t get to have a strop (temper tantrum),” he added.

In January, Google threatened to disable its search function in Australia if the government proceeds with proposed law and earlier that month, it admitted that it has been intermittently blocking some Australian news sites from users as part of a series experiments it was conducting.

However, in more recent news, Google has agreed to pay Mr Murdoch’s News Corp for content from news sites across its media empire.

News Corp owns The Sun, The Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Australian, among other publications.

News Corp said it would be sharing its stories in exchange for “significant payments“.

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