Google To Facebook: Australian Publishers Choose To Appear In Google Search

ACT Health Facebook page

"RiotACT content doesn't sit behind a paywall and is always free, so we encourage people to go directly to our website, bookmark it and read the latest Canberra news, views and opinions", she said. The company has reached pay deals with more than 450 publications globally since it launched News Showcase in October. "The Australian government can now argue that this company is dangerously under-regulated".

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher had also raised concerns that blocking news media on the popular platform in Australia could boost the spread of misinformation.

Given the recent Melbourne coronavirus spike and subsequent lockdown, you can understand how risky Facebook's actions have the potential to be.

Australian users will not be able to share or view Australian or global news content.

For this Australian user, Facebook's usability has already declined this morning, with searches and link clicks leading to timeouts and error pages both on the main feed and when searching for news outlets.

"I would say again to Facebook... forget the money, start growing up and making sure that you are about community and safety above all else", he said.

His comments came after the Health Departments of SA, QLD, and the ACT were silenced, days before Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout is slated to begin.

The decision by the social network has been met with anger among many of its Australian users, with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook now trending on Twitter.

Australia's proposed law would be the first of its kind, but other governments also are pressuring Google, Facebook and other internet companies to pay news outlets and other publishers for material.

The Federal Government has been in conversation with Facebook about the legislation for months, with Frydenberg speaking to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg several times in recent weeks.

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"The biggest surprise has been how poor the implementation has been".

After Facebook made a decision to pull the news plug Thursday, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled his willingness to press ahead with the legislation regardless.

However Prof Nicholls believes there is merit in the proposal, likening it to other mandatory codes in existence which seek to address power imbalances, such as the franchise business industry.

By mid-afternoon, many government-backed Facebook pages were restored but several charity pages and all media sites remained dark, including those of worldwide outlets like the New York Times, the BBC, News Corp's Wall Street Journal and Reuters. The disruption by Facebook's news blackout underscores its grip on information dissemination and might hand the social media giant a major bargaining chip in negotiations. William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that Facebook was set to launch the feature in Australia but only "with the right rules in place".

As the law does not provide a clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.

Facebook said in a statement: "Any pages that are inadvertently impacted, we'll look to reverse".

"Facebook was wrong. Facebook's actions were unnecessary, they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia", Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

"Their decision to block Australians' access to government sites - be they about support through the pandemic, mental health, emergency services, the Bureau of Meteorology - were completely unrelated to the media code". Ironically one of the most self-contradictory takes on the matter has been supplied by the former head of Facebook Australia, Stephen Scheeler, who manages to lament Facebook's lack of accountability while at the same time calling on people to boycott the service.

Facebook followed through on its threat to ban the sharing of news links by and to Australian users, as the country's government moves closer to forcing big tech companies to pay to link media outlets' content.

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