Facebook threatens to block users from sharing news in Australia if new law passes

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If Australia passes legislation that would require Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google to pay publishers to distribute portions of their content, Facebook has said that it would block users in that country from sharing news on its platform.

In a statement, Facebook said that the plan "misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect."

"Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram," the company said. "This is not our first choice — it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia's news and media sector."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is drafting legislation that, if approved, would require Facebook and Google to negotiate with media publishers and pay them for content that appears on their sites.

David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, responded to Facebook's threat to block news in Australia, saying:

"Facebook’s threat to block real journalism from its properties is simply an attempt to bully the Australian government and legislature. It is also a clear attempted exercise of their massive, anticompetitive market power. I suspect the Australian authorities won’t be easily intimidated.

"And without quality news and information, all of Facebook’s problems with misinformation would just become much worse. They would be taking away the only real balance for all the crazy rumors and conspiracy theories that they deliver.

"They should, instead, embrace quality journalism as an answer for many of their issues and offer Australian publishers better and more economically sustainable ways to deliver it to the public."

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