Facebook blocks Australian users from sharing news links in response to new law

Facebook decided to prevent users and media companies from sharing links to local and international news articles in response to the proposed News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. The law aims to make online platforms pay Australian news publishers for using their content. The bill passed the Australian House of Representatives and still has to pass the Senate. 


Willian Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, said Facebook and Google have fundamentally different relationships with news content. On the one hand, publishers do not voluntarily provide their content to Google search. On the other, publishers post news on Facebook on a voluntary basis to give more visibility to their content. Easton stressed that, in 2020, Facebook generated more than 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers and the business gain from these referrals is minimal. News corresponds to less than 4% of the content Australian users see in their news feed. Considering the two platforms operate differently, Easton predicts that their responses to the proposed regulation will be also different. He also mentioned that the company was preparing to launch Facebook News in Australia, but the platform stepped back considering the new legislation allows the government to decide the partners who enter into the agreements with the platforms and ‘how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid’. 


Google has already launched its News Showcase platform in Australia. The company has also negotiated its own contracts with Australian publishers.