Facebook Unfriends Australia over the Recent Proposed Bill

Facebook blocked its Australian Users from sharing or viewing news content on the platform. This move comes after the Australian government’s proposed law that would make companies such as Google and Facebook pay for the content they publish on their platform reports PARVATHI SAJIV. 


ON Thursday, Australians woke up to find that Facebook pages of all local and global news sites were unavailable. Even those who were from outside the country couldn’t access any Australian publications on the platform. Facebook’s retaliation comes after the law that will make Internet Tech Giants such as Google and Facebook pay content publishers for publishing on their platform in Australia. 

As The Indian Express  reported, “The proposed law, News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill 2020, mandates a bargaining code that aims to force Google and Facebook to compensate media companies for using their content.” 

This legislation has the power to set a precedent for regulating social media across the world and ensure that Australian generated news content is paid fairly and legitimately. “The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio. 

The Australian government has strongly criticised the move, saying it demonstrated the “immense market power of these digital social giants”.

According to Facebook, the bill fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between platforms such as Facebook and publishers who use it to share news content. 

Willian Easton, managing director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand, said in a blog post, “It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

On the other hand, Google is signing deals with select media outlets worldwide to display articles. The payments are part of a new product called Google News Showcase, which will allow news outlets to package their stories within Google News. But Google has threatened to shut its search engine service in Australia if the proposed bill becomes a law. This brings to question – is payment really the matter plaguing these companies?

(Parvati Sajiv is a student of the Symbiosis Centre of  Media and Communication, Pune and is an intern at The Leaflet.)