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Facebook blocks Australian users from viewing or sharing news

February 18, 2021 11:43 am

Facebook has blocked Australian users from sharing or viewing news content on the platform amid a dispute on a law.

Australia wants tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay for the content re-posted from news outlets.

But Facebook says this “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers”.

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Australia’s government has strongly criticised the move, saying it threatens the “credibility” of the platform.

Australians woke up on Thursday to find that the Facebook pages of all local news sites, as well as international media, had been blocked.

The action has also affected the accounts of several government agencies – including Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, police and emergency services and other non-news organisations.

The government has said it is proceeding with the law, which passed parliament’s lower house on Wednesday.

“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing,” Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told the ABC.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tweeted that he had had a “constructive” discussion with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday.

“He raised a few remaining issues with the government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward,” he said.

Facebook’s announcement came hours after Google agreed to pay Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for content from news sites across its media empire.

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