Facebook has announced its decision to restrict news from Australian media. This means that publishers will not be able to publish news on the platform. Likewise, users in the country will not have access to publications of this type through the social network, regardless of whether they have been published by Australian or international media. Along the way, the content of some government accounts, public health organizations, charities, and meteorological services have also been removed. The blockade comes after the presentation of a bill in the oceanic country that seeks to force sites like Google or Facebook itself to pay the media for having their news within their ecosystems.

The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it to share news content. It has left us with a tough choice: try to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With heavy hearts, we chose the latter, “says Facebook in a statement shared with the media. The measure, in addition to affecting Australian readers, makes it impossible for international Internet users to access the news of the country’s publishers through the platform.

The American social network maintains that his case is different from that of Google, a company that has already begun to reach agreements with the oceanic state media to adapt to the norm. In this regard, Facebook states that publishers do not choose to place their information in the search engine so that it can reach readers. However, in his case, it is the media themselves that “voluntarily choose to publish news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, increase their audience and increase advertising revenue.” The platform defends itself, in turn, arguing that the earnings generated by the publication of news for the platform, which has its biggest business in advertising, “is minimal.”

Specifically, the law presented in the Australian parliament claims that technology companies must negotiate a payment with national media in consideration for the content they publish on internet platforms. If both do not reach an agreement, the government would be in charge of appointing an intermediary who would decide the amount to be paid. The US platform emphasizes that they are trying to penalize it “for content that it did not take or request. “This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content deals and, ultimately, how much is paid to the part that already receives value from the free service.

Be that as it may, dozens of pages managed by key government agencies, public health centers, and charities, among others, have also been affected by the measure. Something that, according to Facebook to this newspaper, has been “a mistake.” Government pages should not be affected by today’s announcement. The actions we are taking are focused on preventing publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content, “they tell from the social network. Since the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have adopted a broad definition to respect the law as it is written. However, we will revert the pages that are inadvertently affected, “said the same sources

At the moment it is impossible to access news from Australian editors on the site owned by Mark Zuckerberg. Media accounts such as ‘ABC’, ‘The Australian’, ‘Financial Review’ or ‘The Sidney Morning Herald’ appear completely devoid of content. From the social network, they explain that the media, although they cannot make publications or share links, still have access to other functionalities of their sites, such as statistics. Australia will not give in to ‘intimidation’.

The Australian Government, for its part, does not intend to bend its arm. Its prime minister, Scott Morrison, assures that the country will not give in to the attempt to “intimidate” Facebook. “They may be changing the world, but that does not mean that they should direct it,” said the leader in a publication posted precisely on his account on the social network. “Facebook’s actions today to end Australia’s friendship by cutting off essential health information and emergency services were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” Morrison said.

For his part, the Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has stated, in statements collected by ‘The Guardian’, that he feels “deeply dismayed” by Facebook’s decision to include health organizations and some NGOs, such as Kids Cancer Project, among the spaces that have been silenced by the social network. The fact that the childhood cancer project may be affected is, frankly, a shame. Facebook should fix it and they should address it immediately.