Facebook has said it remains committed to supporting the global news industry following the announcement it will prevent publishers and users from sharing news in Australia if a new law comes into force.
The decision by the social media giant follows a breakdown in talks over the Australian Government’s plans to make the social media giant pay for content.
In a statement Facebook said it opposed the Australian Government’s proposal as it ran counterproductive to the aim to support struggling news organisations.
The announcement comes just a week after Facebook confirmed it was already in early conversations with UK publishers to extend its Facebook News operation to Britain which would see news providers being compensated for content.
Sarah Brown, head of Northern Europe News Partnerships for Facebook, said: “As you may know, the Australian government has proposed legislation related to our relationship with news organizations in Australia. We’ve always called for regulation that will help, not hinder, the relationships between technology companies and news organizations as we work together to build sustainable solutions that support journalism. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation in Australia has many serious flaws, and fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between the news media and social media.
“Assuming this proposed legislation becomes law, we will reluctantly withdraw the ability for publishers and people in Australia to distribute news on Facebook and Instagram. This is not what we wanted and does not change our ongoing mission to support publishers and journalists around the world.
“This will not impact our commitment to supporting the News Industry globally and is unrelated to our conversations about introducing Facebook News to European markets.”
Australia wants to introduce new rules that would force Google and Facebook pay publishers for the use of their content.
But in a blog post, Will Easton – managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand – said: “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.
“This is not our first choice – it is our last. But 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.”
Easton said the proposed regulations were “perplexing” because they would “force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers”.