Facebook said Wednesday that people and publishers in Australia cannot share and view news from local and international outlets. The announcement is a response to proposed legislation in Australia that would force tech platforms to pay news publishers for content.
“I hope in the future, we can include news for people in Australia once again,” Brown added.
But before Facebook’s announcement Wednesday, Google signaled that it’s headed in the opposite direction — rather than leaving Australia, it appears to be deepening its relationships with publishers there.
Australia fires back
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday blasted Facebook’s actions as harmful to its presence in the country, calling the potential legislation “important” reform.
“Facebook was wrong,” Frydenberg said at a press conference. “Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia.”
“These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them,” Morrison wrote in a post on his own Facebook page, which did not appear to have been affected by the restrictions. “They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.”
The idea that tech companies should have to pay for content on their platforms has been pushed by publishers for some time now, and Murdoch and News Corp have been one of the fiercest proponents. The fight has become more pressing for the tech platforms as regulators in the United States, Australia and elsewhere consider new laws on the matter.
Setting a precedent
“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,” Easton said. “We will now prioritise investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences.”
As part of Wednesday’s agreement, News Corp publications in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia will participate in News Showcase.
Google declined to share the terms of the deal, but News Corp’s press release claimed it will receive “significant payments.”
“This has been a passionate cause for our company for well over a decade and I am gratified that the terms of trade are changing, not just for News Corp, but for every publisher,” Thomson said in a statement. “For many years, we were accused of tilting at tech windmills, but what was a solitary campaign, a quixotic quest, has become a movement, and both journalism and society will be enhanced.”
— Angus Watson contributed to this report.