Australia News & Tech: Google Secures Deals While Facebook Blocks News Altogether

by ian

Ian Patrick, FISM News


Australia continues to be at odds with tech companies over paid news content. Both Google and Facebook have made headlines over their responses to Australia’s bill, which aims to force the companies to pay local Australian outlets for their news content.

When the bill was first announced, Google was vehemently opposed to the proposition and called it “unworkable,” threatening to even pull their services out of Australia. However, since then Google has been trying to make deals with Australian publishers to show that there is no need for a national law. Since the announcement, Google has made separate deals with several Australian news sources including Seven West Media, News Corp, and Nine Entertainment.

Australian officials found these deals promising, believing that the proposed laws were having the right effect. Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, “This legislation, this world-leading mandatory code, is bringing the parties to the table. We have held the line and held it strongly.”

Facebook, however, reacted quite differently. On February 17, the company announced via a blog post that they would “restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.” They continued to explain how the company viewed the proposed laws:

The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. 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.

Despite Facebook’s announcement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the nation would press forward with their bill and hoped that the social media company would work with him. Morrison said concerning Facebook:

I would just say to Facebook: This is Australia. You want to do business here, you work according to our rules, and that’s a reasonable proposition. We’re happy to listen to them on the technical issues of this, just like we listened to Google and came to a sensible arrangement. But the idea of shutting down the sort of sites they did…as some sort of threat…I thought that was not a good move on their part, and they should move quickly past that, come back to the table, and we’ll sort it out.