Morrison labels Facebook 'arrogant', refuses to back down on media code

  • Morrison labels Facebook 'arrogant', refuses to back down on media code

Morrison labels Facebook 'arrogant', refuses to back down on media code

Australia's proposed law would be the first of its kind, but other governments also are pressuring Google, Facebook and other internet companies to pay news outlets and other publishers for material.

Facebook said that the proposed law "fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it".

Facebook also blocked important government pages including the weather bureau, health departments and police agencies, along with charities and community groups.

"The company will continue to see growth in ad revenue despite their users' lack of ability to share news content. Facebook's decision today will undoubtedly affect many in the Australian digital industry, and the world will watch as this could continue to spark changes across the globe", he added.

"[As] the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content", the statement continued, "we have taken a broad definition".

Last summer, Facebook had threatened to block people and publishers in Australia from sharing news on its main social network and Instagram if the legislation were to become law.

"In response to Australia's proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and global news content", wrote William Easton, MD of Facebook Australia & New Zealand yesterday.

Most of the affected Pages have since been restored after working with the company, and it sounds like any other non-media organization that's been impacted will get back access to their accounts.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has labelled Facebook's decision to ban Australian news from the platform as "arrogant" and "disappointing".

It also means that people elsewhere in the world can not view or share Australian news content on Facebook.

Despite amendments along the way, the Code has been branded by Google and Facebook as "unworkable" in its current form, and saw Google threaten to remove its search services from Australia entirely should it be adopted.

The media bargaining code is before the Senate after clearing the lower chamber of parliament.

Lisa Davies, editor of The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, owned by Nine, tweeted: "Facebook has exponentially increased the opportunity for misinformation, risky radicalism and conspiracy theories to abound on its platform".

Frydenberg said after weekend talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, that he was convinced the platforms "do want to enter into these commercial arrangements".

But unaffected by the blackout were a series of pages owned by purveyors of fake news and conspiracy theories - despite their frequently posting about current events.

"As for Facebook, its loyal user base will still use the platform for its primary goal - to connect with family and friends. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter", stated Facebook. Even Facebook's own factchecking partners can't post content they've created for the company.

The Facebook pages of Nine and News Corp, which together dominate the country's metro newspaper market, and the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corp, which acts as a central information source during natural disasters, were blank.

In Australia, regulators have zeroed in on the firms' online advertising dominance and its impact on struggling news media.

"The value exchange between Facebook and publishers runs in favour of the publishers", it wrote, saying its platform generated 5.1 billion referrals to Australian publishers.

"Other countries are watching, but also Google and Facebook and other digital giants are very focused on what it means, as far as a precedent goes, for other countries", Frydenberg said. Facebook isn't being accused of abusing its dominant position, it's merely being asked to give money to publishers when it hosts their content.

"Everything that I have heard from parties, both in the news media business and in terms of digital platforms, is that these are generous deals", Frydenberg said.

It makes you wonder: what if Facebook feared showing fake news to its users in Australia as as much as it fears displaying the real stuff right now?