Facebook bans Australians from viewing or sharing news content | Ralph Lauren

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Facebook has followed through on its threat to ban news sharing on its platforms in Australia following the Morrison Government’s media laws entering parliament yesterday.

In a blog post the tech giant said the Federal Government “fundamentally misunderstands” the relationship between the platform and publishers.

“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,” the post said.

“Unfortunately, this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook.”

Facebook’s decision comes despite Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg having a telephone conversation last month.

Mr Frydenberg said at the time “Mark Zuckerberg did not convince me to back down”.

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The tech giant has signaled it would take action if the code was passed in Australia, which would force it to compensate Australian journalists for content appearing on the platform.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said on 2GB this morning that the Government would be “considering” the move carefully but warned it would lead to more misinformation.

“What Facebook itself is saying is our platform will not be somewhere you can get credible, fact-checked news from professional media organisations,” he said.

“We’ll be maintaining the path that we’ve been following.”

It comes after Google struck agreements with news companies like SevenWest this week.

Australian Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the Government ‘stood ready’ to discuss the matters with Facebook but would not change the code.
Camera IconAustralian Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the Government ‘stood ready’ to discuss the matters with Facebook but would not change the code. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

Mr Fletcher said the Government “stood ready” to discuss the matters with Facebook but would not change the code.

“That conversation will certainly include us repeating the proposition that if you do business in Australia you have to comply with the laws of the land in Australia,” he said on ABC.

He said the news from Facebook was “an indicator of the impact” of the Code.

“It will surely impact on their reputation,” he said.

“I would imagine that on quite sober reflection, they will start to become quite troubled about what that would mean for how their platform is perceived.”

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie said she was “really concerned” on the impact on Australian journalism and urged the Government to go back to the table with Facebook and even “bow” to the tech giant.

“I would ask (the Government) to go back to the table and have another discussion with Facebook,” she said on Sky.

“If that means we have to give a little bit and bow a little bit, then maybe it might be worth it.

“The best option here is to please go back to the table and have another discussion.”

She said the move by Facebook would have an impact on media outlets’ bottom lines and the country couldn’t afford to lose more journalists.

“We’ve already lost enough,” she said.

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