Australians woke up at 5am Thursday morning unable to read or share any news articles on the US media giant Facebook. Following a dispute over a new proposed law, Facebook has blocked their Australian users from viewing any news content in an attempt to make news providers, pay for their content to be reposted from news agencies.
Facebook claims to have removed the abilities to share or read the news with a ‘heavy heart’, causing anger and frustration with their, approximately, 17 million monthly Australian Facebook users. This has been done in a fight over different news outlets paying social media pages to display their content.
The new Australian law, which has already been passed under the lower house within the Australian Parliament, is set to receive the final stages of its approval by the Senate next week, making Australia the first country to refuse permission to display the news for free. The Australian House of Representatives approved the law at its start, to encourage internet platforms to pay for their articles within the media giant. This sets an expensive precedent which is rumoured to be in the beginning stages within other areas of the world, including Canada and parts of the European Union. The new law’s creation has arisen due to Australia’s proposed Media Bargaining Law, which would see the likes of Facebook and Google paying other companies to feature their sites.
Facebook has claimed that ‘the law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it’, suggesting that their previous situation was unforgiving and unfair. Although, the questionable move encourages the social media platforms to pay the media for taking advantage of its content.
Following the blocking of all news contents, Facebook has been hit with a backlash of complaints, as the ban on news articles comes just three days before Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. With the public relying on news updates concerning the continuous pandemic through social media platforms like Facebook, the ban couldn’t have come at a worser time, leaving many Australians uninformed and frustrated.