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Facebook Blocks Sharing Of News In Australia

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Facebook has banned publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content. The move, in response to Australia's proposed new Media Bargaining law, escalates the social media giant's standoff with the Australian government.

The new media bill will require online platforms like Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets for displaying and linking to their content.

However, Facebook alleged that the proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between its platform and publishers who use it to share news content. It also sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements.

"It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter," Facebook said in a blog post.

According to the company, the value exchange between Facebook and publishers runs in favor of the publishers. In 2020, the company generated about 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated A$407 million, Facebook said.

Further, Facebook said that its business gain from news, which makes up less than 4 percent of the content people see in their News Feed, is minimal.

Facebook added it was prepared to launch Facebook News in Australia and significantly increase its investments with local publishers, but only if the right rules are in place.

The company will now prioritize investments to other countries, as part of its plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences.

Alphabet-owned Google too has opposed the new Australian law and warned last year it would provide its customers in the country with a "dramatically worse" Google Search and YouTube.

In response to the proposed new law, Google has recently entered into separate deals for news content with media companies like News Corp, Nine Entertainment Co. and Seven West Media.

News Corp said Wednesday it reached a multi-year deal with Google to provide journalism from its news sites around the world in return for significant payments by Google.

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