With a surprise move, Facebook blocks access to news in Australia

In a surprise retaliatory move on Thursday, Facebook stuck Australians from sharing news, escalating a fight with the government over whether or not powerful tech companies should pay news outlets for content.

The Australian government condemned the move, which also blocked some government communications, including emergency services messages and some commercial pages. Digital platforms fear that what’s happening in Australia will set a costly precedent for other countries as governments renew laws to catch up with the rapidly changing digital world. Facebook he took action after the House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow Google to pay for Australian journalism, treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. He said he hadn’t been given any warnings before Facebook acted. Legislation must be passed by the Senate to become law.

Australian news outlets could not publish stories and people trying to share existing news received notifications saying they were blocked from in this way.

“This post cannot be shared,” the website said. “In response to Australian government legislation, Facebook restricts posting of news links and all posts from News pages in Australia. Globally, posting and sharing links to news from Australian publications are limited. “The legislation cited in the notice has not yet been enacted.” Facebook’s actions “were unnecessary, they were heavy and will damage their reputation here in Australia,” Frydenberg said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison lashed out on his own Facebook page.

“Facebook Today’s actions to unfriend Australia by disrupting essential health and emergency information services have been as arrogant as they are disappointing,” Morrison wrote.

“These actions will only confirm the concerns that a growing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of BigTech companies that think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them. They could change the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it, “he added.” We won’t be intimidated by BigTech trying to put pressure on our Parliament. ” Facebook he said the Australian bill “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it.” “This is an assault on a sovereign nation,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told Parliament. “It is an attack on people’s freedom and, in particular, it is a total abuse of market power and control over the technology of great technologies.” The government argues that the proposed Media Bargaining Code will ensure that media businesses will be fairly paid for online connected journalism. Both Google and Facebook he had threatened to take revenge. Australia’s proposal calls for a negotiating safety net through an arbitration panel. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their dominant bargaining positions by making pay offers to take or leave to news organizations for their journalism. In the event of a deadlock, the jury would make a binding decision on a winning bid.

Google had threatened to remove its search functions from Australia because it said the bill was impractical. But that threat has vanished as Google has worked out content licensing agreements with Australian media companies under its own News Showcase model.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. announced a wide-ranging deal with Google on Wednesday. Leading Australian media organization Seven West Media reached an agreement earlier in the week. Their rival Nine Entertainment is reportedly close to their deal and the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. is in talks. The government accused Facebook to endanger public safety by temporarily blocking messages from state emergency services on a day when severe fire and flood warnings occurred in various parts of Australia.

Weather alerts from the Bureau of Meteorology, a Hobart women’s shelter and the Betoota Advocate, a satirical website named after an Australian ghost town, were among those who were surprised to find their content blocked at least temporarily.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said he said so Facebook the government expects access to its pages to be restored.

“The fact that there are organizations like state health departments, firefighters and emergency services. . . who have had theirs Facebook blocked pages, this is a public safety concern, ”Fletcher said.

Facebook he said in a statement: “Any pages that have been inadvertently affected, we will try to reverse.” Health Minister Greg Hunt said Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital still hasn’t fixed his feeding after more than eight hours.

Frydenberg said he had “constructive” discussions with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after the content blocking began.

“He explained that they had problems with aspects of the code and goes to the interpretation of some of its elements. And he’ll come back to me with some more thoughtful opinions, ”Frydenberg said.

He said the government remains committed to the code which is producing generous payment deals with Google for the Australian media.

“Other countries are watching, but also Google and Facebook and other digital giants are very focused on what a precedent means for other countries, ”Frydenberg said.

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

News Highlights:

  • In a surprise retaliatory move on Thursday, Facebook stuck Australians from By sharing news, escalating a fight with the government over whether or not powerful tech companies should pay news organizations for content. The Australian government condemned the move, which also blocked some government communications, including emergency services messages and some commercial pages.
  • With a surprise move, Facebook blocks access to news in Australia