Facebook threatens to block news-sharing on Australian sites

Facebook threatens to block news-sharing on Australian sites

Facebook has threatened to stop Australians sharing news content on its platforms if a proposal to make it pay local media outlets for their content becomes law, escalating tension with the Australian government.

Under Australia’s closely watched internet reform, the country will become the first to make the social media behemoth and Alphabet’s Google pay for news sourced from local providers under a royalty-style system.

Facebook’s plan to block the sharing of news on Australian user accounts, rather than pay royalties, puts the firm broadly in step with Google on the matter and pushes the prospect of an agreement with the government further out of reach.

“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” Facebook Australia managing director Will Easton said in a blog post, referring to two Facebook-owned platforms.

“This is not our first choice – it is our last. It is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector”.

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday said the proposed law was in the national interest, followed 18 months of public inquiry and would create a more sustainable local media industry where original content was paid for.

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