Facebook pulls all news content in Australia over new media law

Facebook logo on a Pixel 4 XL
Facebook logo on a Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Facebook will no longer show news content in Australia following a clash over the company's News Media Bargaining Code.
  • Google adopted the same position at first but relented and signed a deal with News Corp.
  • Australian PM Scott Morrison called Facebook's move arrogant and hailed Google's.

Facebook this week took a drastic step against the Australian government, restricting the sharing of news and viewing of news content in the country. The move comes after a debate over Australia's Media Bargaining Code, a law that would compel social media companies to pay news publishers for links shared on their platform drew fierce criticism from Facebook and Google.

William Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand said;

We were prepared to launch Facebook News in Australia and significantly increase our investments with local publishers, however, we were only prepared to do this with the right rules in place.This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid. We will now prioritise investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences. [...] 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. Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted.

The decision was received about as well as you'd imagine, with Australian PM Scott Morrison calling Facebook's actions "arrogant" and "disappointing" in a statement shared on Facebook.

We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code. Just as we weren't intimidated when Amazon threatened to leave the country and when Australia drew other nations together to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media platforms.

By way of contrast, Google did threaten to pull out of Australia as well a couple of weeks ago, but the company later relented and worked with news publishers for payment. News Corp shared on Wednesday that it had come to an agreement with Google which included "the development of a subscription platform, the sharing of ad revenue via Google's ad technology services, the cultivation of audio journalism and meaningful investments in innovative video journalism by YouTube."

  • Can we get them to do the same in the USA so people can read real news and not what facebook wants them to read?
    Disclaimer, I have never, and will never have a facebook account.
  • I have a Facebook account. Full name. University attended. Almost zero information, an email address I haven't used in years, a phone number for an job I left 7 years ago.
    Why? So nobody can create a fake account in my name and fill it with garbage. It is a worthwhile safety precaution against identity theft.
  • Short answer, no.
  • How about Facebook stop acting like arbiters of truth and get out of news all together.
  • I didn't even know that FB provided news. Now that I do know I'll ignore it. I don't know why anyone would get their news from FB.
  • They also shut down emergency services sites, government sites with covid information, charity pages, bureau of meteorology, the list goes on. The sooner this company is held to account the better
  • Zuckerberg in full effect. This is what corporate oppression looks like. I hope those people who didn't and don't seem bothered by censorship and the curtailing of free speech are happy about this!!! It's what you wanted. And slowly but surely we are on our way of receiving it...
  • As tempting as it is to drag Facebook through the mud, this is actually something they warned would happen if the government pushed ahead with this law designed to give handouts to Murdoch and friends. Regarding the collateral damage, that's a direct result of the government drafting the law to be as broad as possible (at the behest of Murdoch's News Corp). It can also serve as a cautionary tale about what happens when we put too much pressure (especially legislative pressure) on online platforms to "moderate harder".