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Australia: Facebook bans news content in response to Govt's proposed news media code

"Treasurer says Facebook has 'damaged its reputation' with Australian news ban", 17 February 2021

Facebook damaged its reputation by banning Australians from seeing or posting news content on its site in response to the federal government’s news media code, treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said.

The tech giant’s Australian and New Zealand managing director, Will Easton, said the ban would block links to Australian publishers from being posted, while no Australian users would be able to share or see content from any news outlets, both Australian and international.

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

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Easton said ... “We hope that in the future the Australian government will recognise the value we already provide and work with us to strengthen, rather than limit, our partnerships with publishers,” he said.

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Australia’s communications minister, Paul Fletcher, said the move raised questions about the credibility of information now available on Facebook.

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Facebook’s move is in contrast to the approach from the other major platform subject to the code, Google.

Although Google had threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia if the code went ahead, in the past week, Google has signed agreements with some of Australia’s biggest publishers, including News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, for payment for its News Showcase product. The Nine deal is reportedly worth $30m a year.

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