The US social media platform said it would “reluctantly stop allowing editors and people in Australia to share local and international news on Facebook and Instagram” if the bill goes into effect.
“It’s not our first choice, it’s our last. But this is the only way to guard against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term strength of Australia’s news and media industry, ”Facebook said in a statement.
Canberra has signaled it will not back down. “Australia passes laws that advance our national interests. We do not respond to coercion or severe threats wherever they come from, ”said Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer of Australia.
Internet platforms have long been criticized for shaking up the traditional news industry, with Facebook and Google now receiving the majority of online ad spending.
Meanwhile, global regulators are revolving around big tech over antitrust concerns and their potential to affect elections, with other governments, notably in Spain and France, having already taken action similar to the Australian proposals.
Canberra’s bill, which could be passed by parliament by December, aims to force Google and Facebook to pay news publishers for content. It seeks to correct “the fundamental imbalance of bargaining power between digital platforms and news providers” by establishing a system of compulsory arbitration on payments.
The code contains a strict non-discrimination clause intended to prevent Facebook and Google from discriminating against Australian news providers, with infractions punishable by fines of up to 10% of the company’s Australian revenue.
Rod Sims, chief executive of Australia’s competition regulator, told the Financial Times that Facebook and Google should remove all international news from their platforms, not just Australian news, or they could face fines.
This would have a major impact on their services, he added. “First of all, you have to think about what Google search would be like if it didn’t have any news? Sims said. “I think Google search would be drastically reduced. ”
Blocking access to all news on their platforms in Australia would be complex and fraught with legal risks for both groups.
“This means that we will have to undertake a massive elimination of content around the world to prevent it from being visible to Australians – we should remove all foreign newspapers, bloggers, citizen journalists from YouTube, but also sports reporting,” discussions of global health issues, news tweets and an endless array of other types of content from all sources around the world, ”Google said in a blog post last week.
Australia “assumes that Facebook benefits the most from its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true,” the social media company said Monday evening in the United States. He said the news was a negligible source of revenue and was only a “fraction” of what users saw on his platform, as it helped media groups register billions of clicks.
Facebook did not say how it would prevent the sharing of news content on its platform in Australia, saying it would “provide specific details soon” on how it plans to do so.
Jason Kint, managing director of Digital Content Next, a trade association for online publishers, said Facebook’s statement “nullifies the value of current and reliable news for a platform of primarily user-generated content.”
He added that Facebook seemed “ready to draw a red line and don combat gear in Australia in the hope that other nations won’t follow suit.”
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