In news that basically affects everyone, Facebook has announced it has restricted publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing local and international news content. Can people still read this, what I’m writing right now, via Facebook? I don’t know! Probably not.
Why is this happening?
Facebook’s decision is in response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, that would force tech companies – read: social media giants – to pay for news content.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Facebook said in a statement shared on Thursday morning.
“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.”
Facebook said that it tried to work with the Federal Government over three years to find a solution that would encourage collaboration between digital platforms and news organisations.
“Unfortunately this legislation does not do that. Instead it seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for.”
You can read Facebook’s full statement here.
What does this mean?
By the looks of it, Facebook has already implemented the change.
Australians have been banned from viewing new stories, both local and international, and major mastheads, broadcasters, and news outlets have been restricted from posting on the platform as well.
Some outlets may slip through the cracks, or perhaps Facebook hasn’t gotten to them yet. We just don’t know, right now.
Australians can't see any news stories on Facebook this morning after the company banned local users from posting article links. Both local and international outlets are blocked. E.g. This is what the BBC looks like in Australia pic.twitter.com/SJ4XBM8RnC
— Frances Mao (@francesmao) February 17, 2021
Here's what happened when I tried to post an article I wrote yesterday to Facebook this morning. pic.twitter.com/13tepp3AOP
— Oliver Gordon (@olgordon) February 17, 2021
This is pretty scary. Just seeing posts wiped from Australian news outlets like this. pic.twitter.com/DuUGkUel0e
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) February 17, 2021
The move comes just a day after Nine, which wholly owns PEDESTRIAN.TV, reportedly made a million-dollar deal with Google for the use of its content.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, also owned by Nine, the media company has signed a letter of intent with Google for a deal worth more than a cool $30 million annually for five years.
Sources told the masthead the deal includes the use of news articles on products like Google News Showcase and Subscribe with Google.
What happens now?
I really have no idea.