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Facebook threatens to ban news in Australia over payment row

(Image credit: Facebook)

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Source: Facebook (Image credit: Source: Facebook)

What you need to know

  • Facebook says it may stop allowing publishers and users from sharing news stories on Facebook in Australia.
  • It's over a new draft law proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
  • Facebook says the proposed change will let publishers charge as much as they like for content "with no clear limits."

Facebook has threatened to ban the publishing of news stories on its platform in Australia over proposed new laws by Australian competition authorities.

In a press release the company stated:

Australia is drafting a new regulation that misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect. When crafting this new legislation, the commission overseeing the process ignored important facts, most critically the relationship between the news media and social media and which one benefits most from the other.

Facebook says that if the draft becomes law it "will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram." Facebook says that this move is a last resort, but is "the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia's news and media sector."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is trying to force Facebook and Google to compensate news outlets when stories are shared on their platforms.

Facebook says that whilst it supports the Australian government's goal of helping struggling outlets, the solution it has proposed is "counterproductive" and is "unprecedented in its reach." Facebook says the law would force it to pay news organizations for content they put on the platform voluntarily, and "at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers."

Facebook says news is a fraction of what most users see on its news feed and that it is not a significant source of revenue. The company says it made proposals to invest millions more dollars into outlets, but that these were overlooked:

Instead, we are left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits. Unfortunately, no business can operate that way.

Partly in anticipation of the new law, Facebook has updated its Terms of Service to include a provision that will let it remove any user content or restrict user access in order to protect Facebook from legal or regulatory scrutiny and impact.

8 Comments
  • To be clear, Facebook are complaining that one of their sources of content, and a reason for why users visit their platform enabling Facebook to charge for advertising to those users, is requesting some form of payment for the use of that content. And that is being deemed unacceptable by Facebook as their free ride for using that content comes to an end... Well, to that I say "go jump in a lake Facebook." why should they be able to make money from that content for which they contributed nothing to in the way of resource, input, or value, at zero cost. That is no different to piracy or bootlegging. Truely a terrible company and the weakness of their argument on this matter goes further to highlight that fact.
  • Publishers voluntarily publish news on FB and want to charge FB for that. That makes no sense. Theoretically publisher could publish 1000 posts a day and FB would have to pay for all of them. FB did not ask publishers to use the platform to distribute news, instead, publishers have chosen to do so on their own. I don't like FB at all but asking FB to pay for content which users/publishers put there voluntarily is plain stupid.
  • I appreciate your comment and thoughts on the subject. Some further reading on what generated the event which I found to be useful and informative https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-releases-preliminary-report-i...
  • Been a long time since I've seen someone use 'whilst'
  • Australia (and the EU, which proposed a "link tax" in the past couple of years) might want to take a careful look at what happened in Spain. They tried to get Google to pay for links to news sites. Google responded by shutting down Google News for Spain, and Spanish publishers lost millions. It won't be Facebook that suffers here. https://www.zdnet.com/article/eu-smacks-internet-in-the-face-with-link-t...
  • Which is the exact behaviour the Australian Competition, Consumer Commission is concerned about.
  • So much news on Facebook is filled with falsehoods and misinformation that it shouldn't be there in the first place. Facebook should not be the place people get there news from.
  • This proposed law is clearly an attempt to give handouts to Murdoch media (which already has way too much influence on Australian political discourse/policy).