US social media giant Facebook has blocked sharing and access to press articles and news on its platform in Australia.
As of Thursday, Facebook accounts of Australian media ranging from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and some local health authorities have been deleted.
Australians have been barred from sharing information from local sources or accessing information from around the world on the platform.
In a statement, Facebook said it made the move “with a heavy heart” in response to a bill from the Australian federal government, which would require tech companies such as Google and Facebook to pay Australian media for taking back their content.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it to share news content,” said Will Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand.
“It brings us to a difficult choice: to try to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or to stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.”
Paul Fletcher, Australia’s communications minister, said the decision is expected to raise questions about whether Australians can trust what they see on Facebook. He pledged to pass legislation on the binding media code of conduct.
“Facebook must think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and its position (…) At a time when the credibility of information on Facebook is already in question, this is something they will obviously have to think about”, a- he warned.
For his part, the Australian Minister of Finance, Josh Frydenberg, had revealed to have discussed this decision with Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook.
“I had a constructive discussion with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (…) We agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a solution” to the outstanding questions regarding the binding code of conduct for the media, he said. tweeted.