In response to a new bill in Australia, Facebook has started blocking users and media companies from sharing news links on its platform. With this development, access to sharing links to news articles and related content on its main social platform will no longer be allowed. This is in response to a new regulatory bill that is aimed at forcing tech giants to pay news organizations in Australia for using their content.
The Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2021, which mustered enough votes and was passed by the Australian House of Representatives on Wednesday will almost certainly sail through at Senate. The bill which also targeted Google, was initially not taken in good fate by the search engine giant; but backtracked and is now paying publishers.
Facebook’s decision to start blocking links from news articles is the company’s clearest indication that it is not prepared to follow in the same line as Google.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” said William Easton the managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand 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.”
Facebook’s latest action will affect four categories of people/users including:
- Australian users: this category of users will be restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages. While they can continue to publish news content on Facebook, they cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook or content from Australian and international news Pages.
- International community: this category of users cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news Pages.
- International publishers: they can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences.
- For the Australian community: they cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook or content from Australian and international news Pages.
Facebook feels it offers something different from Google, and does not see the comparison especially as Google has already scaled down on earlier threat to pull out of the Australian market.
“Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content. On the other hand, publishers willingly choose to post news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences and increase advertising revenue,” Easton said.