Australian Facebook users could be asked to stop sharing content from news portals on the social media website through their accounts. This move from the tech conglomerate comes as it tries to make its stand against Australian regulatory authorities’ plan to have tech firms such as Facebook and Google pay news portals for any content that is available for the public to peruse through these sites.
Will Easton, Facebook Australia and New Zealand’s Managing Director (MD), in a blog called out this proposal by the Australian regulatory bodies. He also noted, among other things, “(the law draft) misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect”.
Quoting figures, Easton pointed out that Australian websites had earned around $148 million in the months spanning January-May through Facebook receiving around 2.3 billion clicks for the articles shared.
Facebook's last stand against proposed Australian law
On its part, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the authority pushing for this law has countered this assessment by the social media giant.
The ACCC chairperson Rod Simms said, “The code simply aims to bring fairness and transparency to Facebook and Google's relationships with Australian news media businesses”. In July this year, the ACCC had announced its intention to push for a law to ensure that these technological companies gave back to the publishers from whose portals content were sourced.
The decision was made keeping in mind the plight of publishers who lost substantial revenue in the early days of the lockdown in Australia. Talking about the potential law, the ACCC treasurer Josh Frydenberg had said, “Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake with these changes.
Today's draft legislation will draw the attention of many regulatory agencies and many governments around the world”. As expected, Australian publishing companies have been vociferously supportive of this law. For Facebook, however, the situation is different.
In his blog, Easton commented that if Facebook were to take the decision to stop its Australian users from sharing news content on the website, it would be because that the company had no choice except to do so as opposed to wanting to take that choice, in the first place.