Facebook Unfriendly Australia: News pages blacked out for trial of global publishing

Facebook On Thursday he faced an angry backlash after blocking news feeds in Australia in a surprising escalation of a dispute with the government that could be a test for the future of online publishing around the world. The move was denounced by media groups, politicians and human rights groups in Australia and beyond, as it became clear that official health pages and emergency alerts had been deleted along with the news. sites, just three days before the launch of a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program.

“Facebook Today’s actions to unfriend Australia by disrupting essential health and emergency information services have been as arrogant as they are disappointing,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote on his own. Facebook page. “These actions will only confirm the concerns that a growing number of countries are expressing about Big’s behavior Tech companies that think they are bigger than governments and that the rules shouldn’t apply to them. “

The controversy centers on a planned Australian law, which would require Facebook and Google to reach commercial agreements to pay for news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms or to agree a price through arbitration. Although Australia is a small market, the law is closely watched around the world by regulators and could be a test case for a greater global push to force internet giants to share more of their revenue with. content providers.

News editors outside Australia leapt into Facebook tactics as proof that the company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, cannot be trusted as a gatekeeper for their industry. The news ban during a global pandemic was “a classic example of a monopoly power that is the schoolyard bully, trying to protect its dominant position with little respect for the citizens and customers it supposedly serves,” he said. said Henry Faure Walker, president of the British News Media Association industry group.

Facebook he said he blocked a large swath of pages because the bill did not provide for a clear definition of news content. He said his commitment to fighting disinformation hasn’t changed and he will restore pages that were mistakenly removed. “The actions we are taking focus on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content, “a company spokesperson said.” As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have adopted a broad definition to comply with the law as it is written. ” .

DIFFERENT STRATEGIES Publishers claim that platforms like Google and Facebook they have amassed most of their revenue from moving media online, even as printed and broadcast advertising shrinks, forcing newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations to close their newsrooms.

The move to Australia represents a split between Facebook and Google, who had teamed up for years to campaign against such laws. Both had threatened to cancel services in Australia, but Google has instead struck preventive deals with multiple media outlets in recent days. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was the last to announce a deal in which it will receive “significant payments” from Google in exchange for providing content for the search engine’s News Showcase account.

The Facebook the pages of the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corp. remained blank, along with those of Australia’s two major metropolitan newspaper chains, Nine Entertainment Co Ltd and News Corp. International outlets such as the New York Times, the BBC and Reuters have gone invisible. Dozens of charity accounts and major state government accounts were also affected, including those providing advice on the coronavirus pandemic and bushfire threats at the height of the summer season, although some of these were later restored. Facebook’s page was also briefly removed.

Facebook shares fell 1.1% in pre-market trading on Thursday. CHARITIES UNITE WITH CONDEMNATION

Facebook she said in her statement that the law, which is expected to be passed by parliament within days, “fundamentally misunderstands” the relationship between itself and publishers and has faced a clear choice between complying or banning the news. The tech giant said news accounts for only 4% of what people see on its website. But for Australians, Facebook’s role in broadcasting news is growing. A 2020 University of Canberra study found that 21% of Australians use social media as their primary news source and 39% of the population uses Facebook to receive news.

Lisa Davies, editor of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, owned by Nine, tweeted: “Facebook has exponentially increased the opportunity for disinformation, dangerous radicalism, and conspiracy theories to abound on its platform. “Charities whose pages have been hit have joined the condemnation:” Demand for food aid has never been higher that during this pandemic and one of our main communication tools to help connect people with #foodrelief information and advice is not now available, “tweeted Brianna Casey, CEO of the charity Foodbank.” Hours matter when you have nothing to eat. SOLVE THE QUESTION! “

Human Rights Watch called the move “an alarming and dangerous turn of events”. “Stopping access to vital information to an entire country in the middle of the night is inconceivable.”

(This story was not edited by our team of editors and is generated from a feed.)

News Highlights:

  • “These actions will only confirm the concerns that a growing number of countries are expressing about Big’s behavior Tech companies that think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them. “The controversy centers on a planned Australian law, which would require Facebook and Google to reach commercial agreements to pay for news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms or to agree a price through arbitration.
  • Facebook Unfriendly Australia: News pages blacked out for trial of global publishing