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Facebook blocks news sharing in Australia

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The social network protests against a law aimed at forcing it to pay the country’s media.

Facebook is carrying out its threat. The American group announced Thursday evening that it was banning press articles from the Australian version of the social network. Australian media can no longer share content from their official pages. As for Internet users in the country, they will no longer see press articles appearing on their news feed, whether Australian or international.

The US group protests against an Australian law under discussion that aims to force Facebook and Google to enter into licensing agreements with media groups on the island. “As we have explained many times to the Australian government in recent months, the exchange of value between Facebook and news publishers is in favor of the latter,” claims the social network. “We make little money with information. This content represents less than 4% of the publications seen by users on their news feed. ”
Several relief services in Australia complained on Thursday that they were affected by the blocking of item sharing, with the pages serving to alert the population in the event of bushfires, cyclones or epidemics having stopped working, according to the reports. authorities. The government meteorological service page “has been affected by the sudden content restrictions by Facebook,” Environment Minister Sussan Ley tweeted, asking users to visit the organization’s site instead. The Western Australia Fire Department’s Facebook page was also wiped out as the state braced for “catastrophic fire danger” conditions. “Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Unacceptable, ”responded Western Australian MP Madeleine King, while calls have multiplied for Facebook to quickly correct the situation.

Health departments in at least three states, which regularly issue updates on the coronavirus pandemic to hundreds of thousands of Australians have also been impacted, as have several government accounts. The National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Service, some charities, and even the Facebook page appeared blank to users in Australia. Blockages qualified Thursday as “authoritarian” by the Australian government. “Facebook was wrong. Facebook’s actions are unnecessary, overbearing and will damage its reputation here in Australia, ”said Finance Minister Josh Frydenberg.
The Australian government wants Google and Facebook, which captures most of the online advertising market, to help fund the media. The law under discussion wants to force these two groups to negotiate financial agreements with the press groups. If the two parties do not agree on a price, an external arbitrator will settle the dispute.

Facebook refuses to follow this path. “We were ready to launch Facebook News in Australia,” a social network tab featuring a selection of press articles in exchange for compensation from publishers, but “we will now redirect these investments to other countries. ” “We hope the Australian government recognizes the value we already bring to news publishers, and work with us to strengthen, rather than limit, our partnership with them.”
The social network specifies that it will continue to fight disinformation on the Australian version of its social network.

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