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Facebook Bans Australians from Sharing News in Response to Law Forcing Payment for Journalism

Attendees walk past a Facebook logo at the company’s developers conference in San Jose, Calif., April 30, 2019. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Facebook banned all Australians and local media companies from posting, sharing, or interacting with news on its platform, in response to expected legislation that would force Facebook and Google to pay for news content.

The ban also prevents international users from accessing Australia-based news outlets via Facebook, while Australians are also banned from accessing international news outlets. Facebook implemented the ban after Google took a different response to Australia’s proposed regulation, striking deals with local news outlets to pay for content before the law takes effect.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” William Easton, Managing Director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “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.”

Easton claimed that news companies raised their advertising revenues by posting content to Facebook. Australian outlets have argued that their ad revenues have dropped as advertisers moved to large online platforms.

Australia’s proposed law has already passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate within the next week. The law is one of the most direct challenges to the dominance of Facebook and Google in sharing news online, and would set up an independent board to arbitrate disputes between the tech companies and news outlets.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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