Facebook has restricted publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing domestic and international news content in response to the Federal government’s proposed media bargaining laws.
Under the Morrison government’s proposed law, Facebook would be forced to pay publishers for news that appears in people’s feeds.
In response, the social media giant blocked access to Australian news content Thursday morning and in their haste blanked out important government pages providing crucial health, emergency and weather information and alerts.
Facebook has since restored the government pages and said in a statement:
“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.”
“However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted.”
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Facebook’s decision hurts their credibility.
“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing.”
Speaking with the ABC Mr Fletcher ‘We want Google and Facebook to stay in Australia, but we have been very clear that if you do business in Australia, you need to comply with the laws passed by the elected Parliament of this nation.”
“Our government is committed to this code, we’re committed to legislating it, Facebook needs to comeback to sensible discussion with the government.”
Other pages inadvertently effected by the dispute including First Nations Media Australia have called for immediate reinstatement of their Facebook pages.
Chair of First Nations Media Australia, Dot West said in a statement:
“We are outraged that access to First Nations voices has been limited in this way. Never has our media been more vital than during a global pandemic – especially on the cusp of vaccination rollouts.”
“First Nations media services are not the same as commercial outlets and should not be negatively impacted by an industry wide response to corporate interests.”
Meanwhile Google has struck a lucrative three-year deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp that would see the search engine pay for sharing content from the media empire.