Facebook escalated tensions with Australia’s competition watchdog, threatening to block the sharing of news on its services if a proposed law requiring it to pay local publishers for their content is approved.
In a blog published on 31 August, Facebook MD for Australia and New Zealand Will Easton stated the company would “reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram” if the law is passed.
Facebook believes a block 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”.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims said the threat was “ill-timed and misconceived”, noting the proposed code “simply aims to bring fairness and transparency to Facebook and Google’s relationships with Australian news media”.
He noted Facebook already pays for some news content and called for “constructive discussions” as the law is finalised.
David Chavern, president and CEO of US-headquartered News Media Alliance, said Facebook’s threat “is simply an attempt to bully the Australian government and legislature”.
The ACCC released a draft of the code in July, arguing it was needed to help media organisations agree a fair price for use of their content by companies including Facebook and Google.
Google recently warned the move would be harmful.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back