Facebook threatens to ban news publication on Australian platforms

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Australians would be stopped from posting both local and international news stories on Facebook and Instagram.  Image Credit: iStockphoto

SYDNEY  —  Social media giant Facebook Inc. on Tuesday threatened to stop Australian media outlets and individuals from sharing news stories on its platforms in response to a proposed law that would require it to compensate news companies for their stories.

In July, the Australian government announced a draft of the News Media Bargaining Code, which was designed to “level the playing field” for Australian media outlets by making companies like Facebook and Google LLC pay for news content.

Facebook Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Will Easton said in a statement if the proposed code were to become law, Facebook would be forced to pay for information that makes up a fraction of its service, and which news publishers voluntarily share on the platform.

“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” Easton said in a written statement. “This is not our first choice — it is our last.”

Easton said the company is in favor of the Australia government’s goal to support struggling news organizations, but argued that news publishers — not Facebook — benefit most from news stories being shared on social media.

“News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us,” he said.

“News organizations in Australia and elsewhere choose to post news on Facebook…and they encourage readers to share news across social platforms to increase readership of their stories.”

Facebook’s statement comes two weeks after Google made a similar rebuke of the proposed law, suggesting end users of the search engine may be forced to pay for the service.–Kyodo

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