Accessing, sharing news now restricted . . .
In reaction to Australia’s new legislation that forces digital platforms to share revenues with traditional media organizations, Facebook has moved to block users in Australia from viewing or sharing content from domestic or international news media outlets. Content from Australian media organizations has been blocked outside of the country too. Due to technical issues, non-news organizations also found their Facebook pages blocked by the ban, including hospitals, community organizations, sports teams, and even independent businesses. Emergency announcements, such as wildfire warnings, were also blocked. The move has been widely criticized in Australia.
Wresting control back from multinationals . . .
For years, traditional media organizations have been losing advertising revenues as content moves across online platforms, while digital giants like Google and Facebook have in effect monetized content produced by media organizations by charging for advertising on those platforms. The legislation developed by the Australian government from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s draft code was passed by Australia’s House of Representatives yesterday, with the Senate expected to approve it next week. While Facebook has blocked Australian news, Google has signed multi-million dollar deals to pay for access to journalism, including with media giant News Corp.
Governing tech giants and news . . .
The Australian legislation and the ensuing conflict will not remain an Australian issue. Many countries share Canberra’s concern for a fair deal for domestic journalism and, more broadly, platform governance. In recent years, other countries have moved against giant digital platforms for a range of motives. Singapore introduced a draconian ‘fake news bill’ empowering the government to edit or redact what it considers falsehoods on the internet and order tech companies to block accounts it deems are spreading untruths. Meanwhile, China, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia have either threatened to or imposed complete shutdowns in response to platforms’ growing influence. Canada and the EU are also considering similar measures. It was reported yesterday that Ottawa has launched a new round of consultations with media and digital platforms on this issue.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Facebook unrepentant as Prime Minister dubs emergency services block 'arrogant'
- The Guardian: News Corp agrees deal with Google over payments for journalism
- The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘We will not be intimidated’: PM takes Facebook fight to India and the world