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Australia Slams Facebook Restrictions, Won’t Back Down on Digital Content Law

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Despite the restrictions imposed by Facebook, the Australian government will continue to work to pass the bill to force tech companies to pay media outlets for the content they post on their platforms.

“This is Australia. If you want to do business here, you do it under our laws,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “It’s a reasonable proposal and we’re willing to listen to your complaints on technicalities.”

On Thursday, Facebook removed domestic and foreign news media pages for Australians. It also blocked users of its platform from sharing news content on the grounds that it had “left no choice” in the face of new content laws.

The move, which also deleted several state government and emergency department accounts, as well as non-profit charity sites, sparked widespread outrage.

Morrison, who criticized Facebook on its own platform for “unfriending Australia,” said the leaders of Britain, Canada, France and India had shown their support.

The official called the blackout “something of a threat” and urged Facebook to change strategy and return to the negotiating table.

“I invite Facebook, as we already did with Google, to engage constructively, because they know that what happens in Australia is likely to be followed by a number of Western nations,” he remarked.

The Australian law, which will force Facebook and Google to reach commercial agreements with Australian publishers or face binding arbitration, was passed by the federal lower house and is expected to be approved by the Senate within the next week.

Traffic affected

Australian news sites saw their traffic affected after Facebook’s measure, according to early data from New York-based analytics firm Chartbeat.

According to EFE, total traffic from various platforms on some 250 media outlets fell since the day before the ban by around 13% within the country and 30% outside the country.

From Facebook alone it plummeted to 2 % within Australia, and 4 % outside the country.

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