Bar Exams in the Pandemic JURIST Digital Scholars
Facebook threatens to block Australian news if country passes new media law
Simon / Pixabay
Facebook threatens to block Australian news if country passes new media law

Will Easton, the Managing Director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, has released a statement saying that Facebook would no longer permit the sharing of local Australian news content if the Australian Parliament passes the draft News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commissions (ACCC) has said that the Australian Government requested it “develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Google and Facebook.” In light of this request, the ACCC proposed the new code. The code establishes a system in which Facebook, Google, and similar platforms would have to pay local media organizations in order to run their news on their sites.

Easton’s Monday statement claimed the code is “counterproductive,” and instead of helping to support media organizations, it would harm them:

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.

Facebook has also announced new terms of service, which are set to go into effect on October 1. The terms reference  the regulatory ban stating that “We also can remove or restrict access to your content, services or information if we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts to Facebook.”

Google has responded negatively to the draft code by starting an advertising campaign against its passage and claiming that the regulations are harmful to Australia’s media organizations but has made no official mention of removing Australian media content.