Facebook warned that it would block users and Australian news organizations from sharing news stories on its social network. That’s if the country passes a proposed code of conduct to curb social media’s power.
The social media site added that the Australian media organizations should pay Google and Facebook for putting up their content. According to the company’s Australia and New Zealand managing director, Will Easton, the proposal will take to Instagram and Facebook.
The managing director also noted that the decision course was not their first choice but rather their final one. Easton said Facebook is “protecting everyone” from something that “defies logic.” The move would also protect Australian media and news sector.
Facebook versus who?
Mr. Easton aimed at the Australian Commission for Competition and Consumer Affairs (ACCC) for drafting the code. He accused the agency of actually ignoring the fundamental role of social media in promoting journalism.
Facebook argued that users depend on the Australian news items shared on the platform more than 2.3 billion times. That’s just the first five months of this year alone. The company then said the Australian media organizations received a powerful $200 million profit from this.
Mr. Eaton also noted that the commission that oversaw the whole process. He added the bureau “simply ignored” the facts when the new legislation was drafted. He added that the government ignored the relationship between social media and news media, which benefitted from each other.
Tech giants vs. AU government?
Google and other technology giants have also begun speaking out. The search giant suggested that its services in Australia might have to be cut off.
In an open letter to users on August 17, Google said the government’s draft legislation would give “special treatment” to large media companies to make unreasonable demands.
Such a move, according to Google, would make searching and streaming videos hard to keep free. Google, which owns YouTube, did not indicate how it would respond. However, it said it would “risk” its free services.
Google even launched a campaign of opposition to those laws, pushing a kind of open letter to its users.
In his attempt to step away, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg responded to the statement by accusing Facebook of actually making “heavy-handed threats.” Mr. Flydenberg then said Australia is creating laws for the good of national interest and not responding to any form of coercion or even heavy-handed threats.
They also stated that their digital platform reforms are somewhat world-leading and follow a new groundbreaking 18-month inquiry by the ACCC. It has also been noted that the reforms will help, in turn, create an even more sustainable media landscape and push payment in exchange for original content.
However, ACCC chair Rod Sims labeled the recent intervention by Facebook somewhat “misconceived.” He argued that there are many Australians who rely on Facebook to deliver news for them.
Sims stated that according to the recent Digital News Report from this year’s University of Canberra, 39 percent of Australians actually use Facebook to access general news. Around 49 percent use Facebook to update on COVID-19.