Let’s move fast and break things
In a kind of extreme move Facebook banned Australian news outlets from sharing on its platform. It also blocked government pages like state health departments, state police departments and Bureau of Meteorology for good measure. Defiantly, the ban will block links to Australian news and Australian users wouldn’t see content from any news (also international).
According to Facebook blog statement: “[…]proposed law introduced in Australia fails to recognize is the fundamental nature of the relationship between our platform and publishers. Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook does not steal news content. Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook.”
While it’s true Facebook drives a lot of traffic to some websites, it’s also taking the ad revenue from publishers. Snippets of the news or videos are often enough for users, who will not click through to the publishers website.
On the other hand this regulation could set precedence as Mr. Berners-Lee explained to a Australian Senate committee “that code risks breaching a fundamental principle of the web by requiring payment for linking between certain content online”.
Australian government plans to proceed with “news media bargaining code“, which passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Under a proposed code, both Google and Facebook would have to negotiate with media publishers and compensate them for the content. Google has signed a deal with some big publishers inc. News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media. It begs the question, how will tech companies decide who gets the money (only those with army of lawyers?). What’s interesting Facebook not so long ago agreed to pay for content in UK.
I’d say it is a good development; the next chapter which shows how Facebook exerts monopoly power over news and society. It’s newsfeed algorithm is a blackbox, often biased on inflammatory content. The privacy snafus multiple with failed promises.
Bigger question remains about the FB power to censor information published on the platform and how to proceed with regulation of Big Tech.
P.S. On Thursday, pages run by Bureau of Meteorology and the state health departments had been restored. The Australian Federal Treasurer “had a constructive discussion with Mark Zuckerberg” to “try and find a pathway forward.”