After proposals from the Australian government designed to regulate the way online platforms share content, Facebook has announced that Australian users will be blocked from viewing any links to news articles on its website.
The Australian government’s plans would mean digital advertising giants, such as Google and Facebook, would be required to pay news publishers for the right to share their online content.
In a Facebook blog post, the online giant justified its actions by saying the proposals “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”
It added: “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.”
However, the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, accused Facebook of being “disappointing” and “arrogant” in its actions. He added that the move to block users from viewing news content is something the government aims to resolve as soon as possible.
“These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them,” Morrison said in a Facebook post.
“We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament. I encourage Facebook to constructively work with the Australian Government, as Google recently demonstrated in good faith,” he continued.
One issue with this is that there have been reports that some other sources, such as the emergency services and health providers, have had some of their content blocked by Facebook.
The biggest concern is, however, is that if a resolution isn’t met soon, there are fears that users will be unable to access news from credible sources and could therefore be more vulnerable to fake news accounts.
According to the BBC, which analyzed data using CrowdTriange, after the ban was imposed, a search about “COVID-19 vaccines” brought up pages with misleading information. Before, a search found information from reputable sources.