In an unprecedented move, Facebook is restricting users in Australia from sharing or viewing news on the social network. Facebook is also stopping users from outside of Australia from viewing or sharing Australian content from Australian news Pages.
The move highlights the immense power that social networks have over peoples’ sharing and consumption of news, and their ability to take that away. Facebook’s actions come in response to Australia’s proposed Media Bargaining law, which would require internet platforms to pay news organizations for their content; Google has also threatened to pull out of the country to avoid paying news organizations.
“In response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” a Wednesday blog post written by William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, reads.
The blog post explains that Australian publishers are restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages; international publishers, they can continue to publish news content on the social network, but “links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences.”
The post adds that Australian users can’t view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook, or material from Australian and international news Pages. International users cannot view or share Australian news content on the site or content from Australian news Pages.
If Australia does implement the legislation, it would join France which recently inked a deal with Google to pay online publishers. In Australia, Bing has offered to step up to take Google’s place if necessary.
“We recognise it’s important to connect people to authoritative information and we will continue to promote dedicated information hubs like the COVID-19 Information Centre, that connects Australians with relevant health information. Our commitment to remove harmful misinformation and provide access to credible and timely information will not change. We remain committed to our third-party fact-checking program with Agence France-Presse and Australian Associated Press and will continue to invest to support their important work,” Easton added in the blog post.