Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, reveals that the country and Facebook are now back on the negotiation table. This is coming after Facebook banned Australian users from viewing and sharing news on its platform. Yesterday, Facebook blocked Australian users, including pages that provide public health advice on the pandemic, weather forecast, and even a children’s hospital page from sharing any news content.
According to preliminary reports, Facebook’s move directly affects the traffic of Australian news sites. The total traffic of Australian news websites from different platforms in the country decreased by about 13%.
“They are back to the negotiating table,” Prime Minister Morrison told the media in Sydney on Saturday. “This is what we want to see, and we want to solve this problem.”
Prime Minister Morrison also expressed appreciation for the coverage so far. Furthermore, a Facebook executive has apologized for wrongly closing pages operated by charities and other government organizations. Earlier, Prime Minister Morrison claimed that Facebook’s closing of these pages was “completely untenable.”
In order to express dissatisfaction with a legislation in Australia, the Facebook platform has banned Australian users from sharing news. This legislation will force technology companies such as Facebook and Google to pay Australian publishers and news media for news. It is a sort of compensation for the local media industry for losing their advertising revenue to Internet digital platforms. Furthermore, we expect the Australian parliament to pass this law next week.
Top executives condemn Facebook’s action
This Friday, Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said in an interview with local media that the Australian government will hold talks with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, “the goal is to find a solution to the problem.”
“The $7 billion online advertising market is completely for Google and Facebook. In this regard, we are working hard to create a level playing field…The rest of the world is watching us closely. ” – Frydenberg said
The internet giant shocked the world by prohibiting Australian users from sharing news. British Conservative Party Member and Chairman of the House of Commons Media Committee Julian Knight recently stated that Facebook’s prohibition of news sharing in Australia is bullying and the worst corporate behavior. The British News Media Association also stated that Facebook’s behavior indicates that stricter supervision may be required.
Furthermore, Canadian Minister of Culture Steven Guilbeault strongly condemned Facebook’s prohibition of Australian users from sharing news calling it “highly irresponsible” and saying that he would follow Australia’s steps and establish a partnership that requires digital platforms to pay for news content.
This dispute between Facebook and the Australian government actually reflects part of the broader struggle of Internet technology giants against global regulation. The settlement of the dispute is also being closely watched by lawmakers in other countries.