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Facebook blocked Australian users from sharing and viewing news articles on their feeds on Wednesday, following months of back-and-forth with local officials.
The dramatic step follows a debate with lawmakers over how to rebalance the relationship between tech platforms and legacy media outlets.
The country’s proposed “news and media bargaining code” would force Facebook and Google to pay news publishers to display stories in their search results and news feeds. Should the code pass in its current form, it would impose forced bargaining on tech firms, with Facebook and Google arguing that this is unworkable.
Google initially threatened to remove its search engine from Australia altogether, saying the code would disrupt its business model. But it has since taken a softer approach, enticing news publishers –onto its Showcase platform with multi-million dollar deals. Showcase would enable users to access previously paywalled content for free. It has signed deals with some of its fiercest media critics, including media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Facebook, however, has taken the nuclear option: blocking Australians from sharing news content. That crackdown has inadvertently and temporarily included a host of public service institutions’ pages, including fire departments and food banks.
This is the first time Facebook has taken such drastic action, but it might not be the last, because multiple regulatory agencies and governments are considering new rules around news payments.
These rules are in varying stages of progress. Insider broke down 7 of the territories around the world that are on a collision course with Facebook.
There’s appetite for new rules in the US.
In December, the FTC slammed Facebook with two landmark antitrust lawsuits, looking into its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Amid mounting pressure domestically, the News Media Alliance trade body, which has close to 2,000 member organizations, has been promoting a bill for the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.”
Under this bill — much like the proposed Australian code — publishers would be able to “collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms regarding the terms on which their content may be distributed.”
Facebook has responded to such criticisms with various initiatives to fund journalism and boost news content on its platforms, such as its Journalism Project and News tab, but the impact has been modest and the industry continues to struggle.
Meanwhile, Microsoft President Brad Smith has added fuel to the fire in the past week, calling on US legislators to introduce its own version of Australia’s proposals.
Canada has promised to introduce new regulations.
Earlier this month, Canada’s heritage minister Steven Guilbeault promised to introduce new legislation that would force tech giants to pay for news content that appears on their platforms. It’s not yet clear how his plans would differ from the proposed Australian code.
It came after a nationwide campaign backed by 105 local newspapers, in which all of them ran blank front pages in an attempt ot highlight the “urgent” need for reform.
In a statement, Guilbeault …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Tech
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