Facebook has reacted strongly to Australia’s proposed new law requiring users to pay a fee to the media for various news items they share.
As Australia prepares to enact new legislation that would require media to pay for news that anyone shares on Facebook, Facebook and Google have spoken out against it.
Facebook has warned that if such a law is enacted, the feature of sharing news on Facebook platforms in Australia will be stopped.
Google protested the law, which was proposed last month, and warned that Google’s search service in Australia would be drastically downgraded if the law were passed.
Following Google, the latest warning from Facebook has raised tensions between the Australian government and technology giants.
Facebook has made it clear that news sharing features on Facebook and Instagram will be discontinued for Australian users if the bill proposed by Australia, which requires Facebook to pay for news sharing, becomes law.
The Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission, Australia’s regulatory body, has claimed that the law is being drafted to establish a distinction between technology companies and Australian news organizations in the face of declining advertising revenue.
He called Facebook’s warning to shut down the news-sharing feature a “misunderstanding of the timing.”
According to Commission Chairman Rod Sims, the purpose of the law is to make the relationship between companies such as Facebook and Google and the Australian news media business clean and transparent.
But Will Aston, managing director of Facebook, which oversees Australia and New Zealand, commented on the proposed law in a blog post, saying it would confuse the multifaceted nature of the Internet and hurt news agencies trying to protect the Australian government.
He argues that if such a law is enacted, news agencies will have to pay Facebook for the news they share on Facebook.
News agencies have benefited greatly from Facebook’s newsfeed, and in the first five months of 2020 alone, readers have accessed the content of Australian news websites 2.3 billion times, he said, adding that news agencies have benefited from 200 million.
Stating that stopping sharing news on Facebook and Instagram is not the first choice for them but the last option, he clarified that even if the news is stopped, it will not have any effect on other services and features of Facebook.
In an interview with the BBC, a Facebook spokesperson said that a detailed outline of the implementation of the process of banning news on Facebook and Instagram in Australia would be made public soon.