Sunday, 28 February, 2021

Industry responds as Facebook restricts news services across Australia

Google to pay Murdoch's News Corporation for stories Facebook restricts users in Australia from sharing or viewing news links in response to proposed legislation
Cecil Davis | 18 February, 2021, 03:22

Under the terms of the deal, Google is understood to have agreed to pay Nine a little over $30 million annually for the next five years, and will provide Google users with free access to select content from Nine's newspapers, TV, and radio networks across different products. However, Google has said blocking news links and news snippets from media publishers will have far-reaching effects on its code. In 2019, Facebook announced deals to pay some publishers to share stories inside a dedicated news section of its main app. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the plan at an event in NY with News Corp.'s Thomson.

The move, announced in a blog post on Wednesday, represents a divergence in responses among the big tech giants under attack by news publishers, which have blamed the companies for destroying their advertising business.

"I hope in the future, we can include news for people in Australia once again", she added. He discovered that the Facebook Pages for Australian satire sites The Betoota Advocate, The Shovel and The Chaser had all been nerfed.

The announcement comes a day after Australia's treasurer Josh Frydenberg described as "very promising" negotiations between Facebook and Google with Australian media companies.

The senators rejected arguments from Facebook and Google that the proposed "media bargaining code" was unworkable.

Nine said in a statement it was having "constructive discussions" with Google and Facebook.

Last year, seven smaller media companies, specialist websites and a regional newspaper, signed deals to have their content appear on Google's News Showcase platform, but the country's main metro outlets failed to reach agreements.

That Facebook can essentially switch off Australian news on its platform is already being criticised as anti-democratic - even authoritarian - in some quarters.

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Facebook says worldwide news organisations, including 1 NEWS and others in New Zealand, will still be able to post content.

"The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content", Easton stated as he announced Facebook's decision to restrict Australian news content today.

The deal with News Corp comes just days before Australia is due to pass a law allowing it to appoint an arbitrator to set fees if Google or other platforms can not not come to terms with publishers on their own.

Mr Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, has also accused the Silicon Valley platforms of "using their dominance to the detriment of many" and urged tech companies to pay for news content.

"Advertisers should ask themselves whether they want to be associated with a company that refuses to engage in regulation from the democratically elected Australian government, let alone an advertising platform that trades in disinformation with no safeguards on the context their campaigns appear".

"By censoring Australian publishers to maintain its advertising revenue, Facebook has shown it is a threat to democracies worldwide", research director Matt Stoller said in a statement.

"The law would unfairly require unknown payments for simply showing links to news businesses, while giving, to a favored few, special previews of search ranking", he said. "We will now prioritize investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences". It's entered into commercial deals with media companies in the United Kingdom, for example.

Most Australian news pages have had all their content stripped from the page, including cover photos in some cases.