Facebook is having none of the new Australian law that could be going into effect soon. The social media giant has come at odds with the government’s proposed rule around different social media platforms and online search engines sharing news. In response, Facebook has taken things a step further with a recent move to block links that direct to the news in the country. It’s an interesting step that could start a proverbial game of regulatory chicken between the company and the Australian government.
The issue at hand is a new Australian law that’s been proposed to begin charging Facebook and other platforms for the use of the country’s news outlet’s information. According to the law, which isn’t official yet but is close, Facebook would have to enter agreements with Australian news companies if the latter’s links and videos were going up on the platform. Facebook has refused to comply or pay these companies in accordance with the new law and has now taken to removing links about the legal matter.
Facebook was very clear, in its latest media release, about how it plans to handle news on the platform for Australian users. Basically, it goes like this: Australian publishers will be blocked from sharing any content on Facebook, international publishers will have content blocked in Australia and Australian users will be blocked from seeing all news-related content. This is such an extreme measure for Facebook to take and likely will prove to be a massive hit to Australian news outlets who have relied on content being shared on the platform. Facebook claims they’ve referred over $400 million dollars to Australian news companies over the years.
Google was apparently in a similar Australian bind as Facebook in terms of having their content blocked and taxed by the government in an effort to reimburse the news outlets. But the former is working out content deals with Australian publishers in an effort to keep the news lights on going forward in the country.
During Australian Senate hearings around the proposed law, Facebook had made it clear their intentions if the bill was ratified. They had let it be known at the time that if the law was enacted the social media platform would immediately begin limiting the sharing or posting of news within the country. It sure looks like that wasn’t a hollow threat. They’ve begun the process already even in advance of the bill being made official. Australian leaders aren’t backing down either making for quite the standoff.
What this means for other countries using legal roads to bill social media and search companies remains to be seen. Facebook said that the new law failed to understand the relationship the social media platform has with news outlets. Others saw it differently. It will also be interesting to see how the country’s users react to the new implementation. If there is a public outcry once news is gone off the platform could make for something of a shift. This is still a developing story that isn’t likely to be solved in the short term.