Facebook Australia blocks news content rather than pay for its use

While Google appears resigned to the fact that news producers need an income to continue their work, Facebook has thrown a tantrum at the prospect of new legislation to force them to pay for the news they publish.

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Amidst announcements that Google was now planning to pay for content, Australians awoke to a news blackout on Facebook this Thursday when the social media giant stopped users from viewing or sharing news items from anywhere in the world.

News publishers were also prevented from displaying their wares on the social channel.

Facebook confirmed the move was in response to the Australian government’s planned legislation to compensate news organisations for their work with the managing director of Facebook Australia announcing in a blog post that he believes the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code “misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”

Australia’s communications minister Paul Fletcher responded by saying the news ban will have no effect on plans to push forward with the proposed laws, adding the move “certainly raises issues about the credibility of information on the platform.”

News publishers are currently forced to push their content on social channels to reach audiences that don’t frequent actual news sites, but with no-one reading news on Facebook now, it remains unclear if they will see a substantial downturn in readership.

And with the new level playing field being legitimised by Google and Microsoft signalling support for the beleaguered news industry, there will not be a shortage of channels to share content on.

Interesting times!