Facebook restricts publishers, users in Australia from sharing news content

Move comes as Google reaches global deal with News Corp on subscription platform

Facebook will restrict publishers and users in Australia from sharing or viewing news content in response to a proposed law that would require it and Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, to pay publishers for content, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The move represents a divergence in responses among the big tech giants under attack by news publishers, which have blamed the companies for destroying their advertising business. The Australian federal government has said it plans to put the legislation, which effectively forces Google and Facebook to strike deals with media companies or have fees set for them, to a vote in the coming weeks.

Google deals

Google has also threatened to shut down its search engine in the country to avoid “unworkable” content laws even as it has secured deals with publishers in the UK, Germany, France, Brazil and Argentina for its Google News Showcase product.

On Wednesday, Google reached a landmark global deal with News Corp, owner of the Wall Street Journal and two-thirds of Australia’s major city newspapers, to develop a subscription platform and share advertising revenue.

Facebook said the proposed legislation “fundamentally misunderstands” the relationship between tech platforms and publishers, adding that it has helped Australian publishers earn about 407 million Australian dollars (€262 million) last year through referrals.

The social-media giant, which has long been criticised for allowing misinformation to flourish on its platforms, said Australian users would not be able read or share news content on its sites, and Australian news publishers will be restricted posting or sharing content on Facebook pages. – Reuters