Facebook Blocks Australian Access To News On Its Platform

Facebook announced Thursday, February 18, it has blocked Australians from viewing and sharing news on the platform because of proposed laws in the country to make digital giants pay for journalism. Australian publishers can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences, the US-based company said in a statement.

Australian users cannot share Australian or international news. International users outside Australia also cannot share Australian news.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Facebook regional managing director William Easton said.

“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter,” Easton added.

The announcement came a day after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described as “very promising” negotiations between Facebook and Google with Australian media companies. Frydenberg said after weekend talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, he was convinced that the platforms “do want to enter into these commercial arrangements. Frydenberg said he had had a “a constructive discussion” with Zuckerberg after Facebook blocked Australian news.

“He raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward,” Frydenberg tweeted.