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big tech, facebook, demandas

Australian Government Questions Facebook’s Credibility After Blocking News Feed

Australian Parliament considers bill to force tech and media to agree to pay for news stories

[Leer en español]

The Australian government questioned on Thursday the “credibility” of Facebook after the American company stated it will ban publishers and all users in the Oceanic country from sharing news produced by media outlets on its platform.

“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing (…) At a time when there are already questions about the credibility of information on Facebook, that is something that they will obviously need to think about,” Communication Minister Paul Fletcher told Australia’s ABC News.

The tech company said the move comes as a response to a proposed law being pushed by the Australian government to force Facebook, and other social media platforms, to agree to pay for the news and content that is produced by the media and later published on their platforms.

“In response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” the company led by Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

In practice, this means that all news produced by Australian media will be banned on Facebook, including those produced by international news outlets.

The ban has affected emergency services in Australia, such as the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Bureau of Meteorology, prompting Facebook to later clarify that official government accounts will not be affected.

The Australian Parliament is considering legislation that will force tech companies and media outlets to agree on a payment for the news. If no agreement is reached, the courts will have to decide the total amount to be paid.

Both Facebook and Google, which even threatened to stop operating in the country, have repeatedly expressed their rejection of this bill. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives last night and is expected to reach the Senate next week.

Josh Frydenberg, the head of the Australian Treasury, posted on Twitter that he had a “constructive” conversation with Zuckerberg, who “raised some outstanding issues with the media negotiation code.”

However, just this Wednesday, Google and News Corp., publisher of newspapers such as The Times, The Sun, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post, announced an agreement by which the internet giant will pay to display News Corp.’s content in the news section of the search engine.

The three-year agreement will force Google to pay a “significant amount” to News Corp. in exchange for being able to show its’ newspapers articles on a featured section of Google News.

The News Corp. titles that are expected to receive money from Google are The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch and The New York Post in the U.S.; The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun in the U.K.; and several publications in Australia such as The Australian, Sky News, news.com.au and a multitude of local media outlets.

The search engine also recently reached a similar agreement with 121 publishing companies in France, and has recently closed particular deals with publishers in Argentina, Brazil, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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