Facebook has threatened to prevent Australian publishers and users from sharing news content on Facebook and Instagram, should the proposed News Media Bargaining Code be made into law.
Facebook Australia & New Zealand managing director Will Easton announced the drastic measures in a blogpost on Monday.
“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” said Easton.
“This is not our first choice – it is our last. But it 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.”
Easton said that while Facebook wishes to support struggling news organisations, it believes the proposed code – which will see both Facebook and Google forced to negotiate payments with media companies – is “counterproductive”.
“The proposed law is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers,” said Easton.
“Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers.”
Like Google has previously, Facebook pointed to the relationship that exists between publishers and tech giants, arguing that the benefit is mutual.
“News organisations in Australia and elsewhere choose to post news on Facebook for this precise reason, and they encourage readers to share news across social platforms to increase readership of their stories,” Easton said.
“This in turn allows them to sell more subscriptions and advertising. Over the first five months of 2020 we sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge – additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers.”
Easton also suggested Facebook’s dedicated news platform Facebook News will not be introduced in Australia as a result of the proposed code.
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