Facebook has escalated its disagreement with Australia over proposed legislation that would force it to pay for news.
Australia has been pushing legislation that would force tech companies to pay for news content they link to. Traditionally, Google and Facebook have both been opposed to such a practice, with Google claiming news publishers benefit from it linking to their content. Originally, Google threatened to pull its search from the Australian market altogether, before capitulating and signing major deals with news publishers.
Facebook on the other hand, appears to be going an entirely different route. The company has decided to restrict Australian consumers and news outlets from posting any links to news articles.
Campbell Brown, VP Global News Partnerships, explained the company’s stand:
Today we made an incredibly difficult decision to restrict the availability of news on Facebook in Australia. For the last three years, Facebook has worked closely with the Australian government on regulation that would help better define the relationships between technology companies and news organizations. Regulatory environments conducive to strong collaboration allow us to build innovative and sustainable ways to support journalism for the long term.
What the proposed law introduced in Australia fails to recognize is the fundamental nature of the relationship between our platform and publishers. Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook does not steal news content. Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook. From finding new readers to getting new subscribers and driving revenue, news organizations wouldn’t use Facebook if it didn’t help their bottom lines. But we think we can do more and through the Facebook Journalism Project we have the right resources and team in place to bring innovation to the future of digital news.
Given the scrutiny Facebook is already under worldwide, playing hardball with the Australian government is a risky maneuver that may end up backfiring.