Facebook may block Australians from sharing news articles

Facebook may block Australians from sharing news articles

Facebook users in Australia could lose their ability to share news on the social network, the company is warning.

Facebook has threatened to stop users from sharing news content in Australia as the country prepares to make the social media giant pay publishers for their articles.

Facebook had until today reserved its public argument against the latest version of the code but has made similar claims that it would ultimately harm journalism in Australia and that news organisations voluntarily use its platform to boost their reach.

"This is not our first choice - it is our last".

Facebook Australia has retaliated by saying it will "reluctantly" stop all publishers from sharing local and global news should the new code be legislated.

Facebook warned Monday that it will prevent people in Australia from sharing news on its platform if the Australian government moves forward with a plan to force both it and Google to pay news organizations for content shared on their platforms.

All of this stems from a proposed agreement drafted by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), which wants internet giants like Facebook and Google to financially compensate Aussie news producers.

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg proposed the laws, hoping it "would create a more sustainable media landscape and see payment for original content".

The threat came after a consultation period on the draft law ended last week and the Australian government gets to work on its final wording.

In a new blog post, Will Easton, managing director of Facebook's Australian and New Zealand operations, says the company "will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and worldwide news on Facebook and Instagram" if the company is forced to open its wallet. Easton writes that such suggestions, when proposed, went overlooked. Still, we recognize that news provides a vitally important role in society and democracy, which is why we offer free tools and training to help media companies reach an audience many times larger than they have previously. The sharing ban would apply to both local and worldwide news stories, it said.

"Unfortunately, no business can operate that way", he wrote.

Mr Easton said Facebook supported the Australian government's goal of supporting struggling news organisations but its solution was counterproductive.

"Australian Facebook users are being held to ransom as a tactic to intimidate the Australian Government into backing down on this issue", Free TV Australia chief executive Bridget Fair said.

The code would set out standards for big tech platforms like Facebook to pay news publishers for displaying their content.

According to the platform, its News Feed generated about 2.3 billion organic referrals to Australian news publisher domains from January to May this year.

News Corp is a dominant player in Australian media, with many newspapers including the Australian, the Daily Telegraph in Sydney and the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

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