(TargetLiberty.org) – On February 18, numerous news organizations reported that Australia’s federal government proposed a law that would force big tech companies like Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news content displayed on their sites. The idea is to ensure Australian media companies receive proper compensation for the articles they produce instead of filling high-tech companies’ bank accounts.
Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., the world’s fourth-largest tech company in terms of earnings, agreed to pay Australian publishing companies. However, on February 18, Australian Facebook users awoke to find that Zuckerberg and Company scrubbed its platform of any local or national news. Additionally, Facebook blocked them from posting links to any content created by Australian media companies.
Increasing Backlash From Australian Leaders
In response, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denounced Facebook’s decision to block news content, calling it “arrogant” and “disappointing.” He also wasn’t the only one disturbed by this new development on the platform.
Australian Medical Association President Dr. Omar Khorshid also spoke out against the ban, discussing the importance of citizens having access to reliable news on the platform — especially during COVID-19 vaccine rollout. He said it was “ironic” that Facebook allows misinformation to spread on the platform while blocking official news sites.
When the ban went into effect, other Facebook pages were also impacted. These include government pages, health resources, emergency services, and more. Many of these pages have now been restored to normal.
This new ban will have a major impact on how Facebook users in Australia seek out information. While the future is still uncertain for the platform’s relationship with Australia, individuals such as Australia Institute’s Center for Responsible Technology think-tank director Peter Lewis has suggested the ban will make Facebook “a weaker social network.
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