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Written by on 18/02/2021

www.news.com.au

Facebook has responded to a proposed new law by banning Australian users from reading or sharing news on its platform.

The stunning decision was made in retaliation to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, with the federal government pushing forward with a plan to force social media giants to pay for news content.

Facebook and Google both initially responded with fury, with Google threatening to pull its search engine from the country during an inquiry in January.

Now, Facebook’s bombshell decision means Australian news publishers will no longer be able to share stories on Facebook, and international news won’t be visible or able to be shared by local Facebook users, while overseas Facebook users also won’t be able to read or share Australian content.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has come out swinging this morning, telling the ABC Facebook needs to “think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing”.

“They’re effectively saying, on our platform, there will not be any information from organisations which employ paid journalists, which have fact checking processes, editorial policies,” he said.

“They’re effectively saying any information that is available on our site does not come from these reliable sources.”

He doubled down on those comments during an interview with 2GB, but said while the bombshell was worrying, he believed both Facebook and Google would remain in Australia.

“We’ve had continuing discussions with Facebook. They have chosen to make this announcement. There are already questions about the credibility of the information and sources on the Facebook platform,” he said this morning.

“It costs money to employ journalists who have proper fact-checking purposes and provide reliable information and that is a key policy issue the Australian government is concerned about. “What has been announced by Facebook this morning raises very serious questions, including the credibility of information on Facebook.”

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” he wrote.

“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.


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