Facebook Might Soon Not Allow Publishers And People To Share News In Australia

A new legislation has been proposed in Australia that is based on making it madatory for the tech platforms to play publishers for content and as this has made Facebook unhappy, as a result the company is planning to block sharing of local and international news on the platform in the region.

According to the blog post that Facebook released in response to the new legislation, Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand stated stated that the government of Australia doesn’t understand how internet works and this change will eventually hurt the news organisations that authorities are trying to protect. The inclusion of commission is ignoring some important facts and also the relationship between social media and news media.

Eventually, the last resort for Facebook, if the draft code becomes a law, would be to stop the publishers and consumers from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram - mostly because the company feels that the legislation is totally going to destroy the long-term success of the news and media sector in Australia.

The News Media Bargaining Code law was drafted right after the 2019 inquiry which highlighted the important factor that tech giants like Facebook and Google were taking a massive share of online advertising revenue from the key players belonging to media sector in Australia.

After hearing this, the Treasurer of Australia ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to draft a voluntary code of conduct that would actually force the platforms to share their earnings with media companies in the country as well. For now, The ACC has also told the government that there are also very less chances of a voluntary agreement to take place.

The proposed legislation states that Google and Facebook will remain bound to provide publishers a notice regarding the changes in their algorithms in advance and in case of failing to comply, the company will have to bear heavy penalties. Both the companies have revoked against this provision and Facebook has been blunt enough to say that this would be giving news organizations in Australia a very unfair competitive advantage.

Easton explained Facebook’s stance by telling that although the News part represents a signifcant fraction of what users see in their news feeds, yet this big ration doesn’t convert into a significant source of revenue for Facebook.

He also went on to explain how Facebook, for the first five months of 2020, provided 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites without charging any fees and the traffic is estimated to be worth $200 million AUD for Australian publishers.

Facebook was not alone in the whole response as Google too published an open letter at the start of this month about the proposed law, along with a pop-up to its homepage in Australia that warns users with the following words “the way Aussies use Google is at risk” and sooner or later the regulation can affect the search results as well.

Google continued their argument by saying that the law will give favor to big media companies and this one step will lead to more of unreasonable demands which can put the company’s free services at risk.

However, The ACCC has said that Google’s letter contains misinformation and giving media sector a healthy fair chance with the right resources can be beneficial for a well-functioning democracy as well.

The media companies in Australia are showing full support for the proposed legislation as majority of them had to bear the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19. So this law can be a good jet start all over again for the media outlets.

Facebook Might Soon Not Allow Publishers & People To Share News In Australia
Photo: JasonDoiy via Getty Images

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