Australia’s prime minister on Thursday shook Facebook’s “cocky,” retaliatory news for news from his site – as he and other leaders refused to succumb to pressure from Silicon Valley.
PM Scott Morrison wrote, “Facebook’s actions with the people of Australia, cutting down on essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant, as disappointing.” Have own Facebook page.
The prime minister tweeted on Facebook the same day the social media giant immediately banned media content under its platform – resulting in darkness on emergency services and government pages, including the Queensland and South Australia State Health Department.
The sweeping move – which came without warning – was in response to legislation passed by the House of Representatives, which would allow Facebook and Google to negotiate with media companies and pay for news content that is distributed on their sites.
The bill is headed for a vote in the Senate and is expected to pass next week.
“We will not be intimidated by BigTech’s attempt to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important news media bargaining code,” Morrison promised.
He said, “These actions will only confirm concerns that a growing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of bigtech companies who think they are bigger than governments and the rules should not apply to them.”
“They can change the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.”
Morrison also indicated that he is rallying global support to take action against Facebook.
“I am in regular contact with leaders of other countries on these issues,” he wrote.
The Prime Minister is already in touch with his counterpart in India, Narendra Modi, who has the largest number of Facebook users in the world, According to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The two leaders shared a phone call on Thursday afternoon.
Facebook, which has 17 million users in Australia, and Google account for 81 per cent of online advertising in Australia.
The country’s Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Thursday vowed to go ahead with the law despite the media blackout.
“We’ll proceed with the code,” he Told ABC News of Australia. “We want Google and Facebook to live in Australia, but we are very clear that if you do business in Australia you need to follow the laws passed by the elected parliament of this nation.”
in blog post On Thursday morning, Australia and New Zealand managing director of Facebook, William Easton, defended the stage decision for an all out news blackout after the bill was approved by the House.
“The proposed legislation fundamentally misconstrues the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” he wrote. He said, “This has left us with the option of: attempting to follow a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stops allowing news content on our services in Australia.” With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter. “
Facebook’s sudden action has drawn fierce criticism, including former chief executive Stephen Scheeler, who led Facebook Australia and New Zealand.
“It should not have happened. But unfortunately it happened, ”Scheeler told The Australian. “But there is no good answer … but no one on Facebook ever loses his job.”
“I am a proud ex-Facebooker, but I have become more and more lost over the years. For Facebook and Mark it is about a lot of money, and power, and not about the good, ”said Scheeler. “If you imagine a Chinese company doing this for example, we would be up in arms. All Australians should be very concerned about this. “
Skylar, who resigned in 2017, also urged Australians to boycott the site and called for “greater regulation” of the social media giant.
Google and Facebook have waged a war against the proposed “news media bargaining code”, with search engine Titan saying it could give large companies an “unfair advantage” over its free services.
The Managing Director of Google Australia, Mel Silva, wrote in an August letter, “Legislation has been enacted to give special treatment to large media companies and encourage them to make heavy and unreasonable demands, which would jeopardize our free services . “
Google has also threatened to shut down its search engine in Australia if the bill passes – although Fletcher noted that the tech giant adopted a more consensual approach to deal with publishers.
On Wednesday, Google agreed to pay a “significant payment” to News Corp – which owns the Post and the Wall Street Journal – to provide its news content as part of a three-year deal.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but a source close to the situation valued it at millions of dollars.
Fletcher told ABC that the proposed legislation is about Australia having a diverse, well-resourced media sector.
“It is an important part of our democratic process,” he said. “Silicon Valley probably doesn’t seem so important but it is very important for the Australian Government and Australians.”
Meanwhile, Facebook said it has unfairly banned so many pages because the draft law does not explicitly define news content.
For example, their pages in Save the Children Australia, Hobart Women’s Shelter, and the Kids Cancer Project were drawn from the platform, as did Brisbane City Council, South Australia Health and Bureau of Maternology.
By Thursday evening local time, some of these pages had already been restored.
A spokesman said it would work to restore access to some pages.
“The work we are doing is focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” A Facebook spokesman said. “As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broader definition to follow the law as it is in accordance with the law.”
With post wires