“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” William Easton, Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand managing director, said in a blog post.
“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.”
Nine, which is the publisher of this site, said it was “unreasonable behaviour”.
“It is unfortunate Facebook have taken this position and it will indeed inhibit us from sharing our quality news and information with Australians. Nobody benefits from this decision as Facebook will now be a platform for misinformation to rapidly spread without balance. This action proves again their monopoly position and unreasonable behaviour,” a spokesperson said.
“But today’s statement does not mean Facebook will not have to abide by the Federal Governments proposed code. Value has already been transferred and Facebook has benefited from our content for many years. We should be able to access their monopoly platform and have the right to monetise our content as a result.
“We have been negotiating with Facebook in good faith and we remain willing to do a deal with them that provides a mutually beneficial outcome and ensures quality information is available to all Australians on their platform.”
Facebook said the Federal Government, and the proposed law, “seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for”.
“Unfortunately, this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook.
“Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted.”
“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,” Mr Frydenberg said.
‘Raises very serious questions’
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told 2GB’s Ben Fordham the government would proceed with its planned reforms despite Facebook’s action.
“It’s certainly something that raises concern… the government will consider it very carefully,” Minister Fletcher said.
But, he said, “we’ll be maintaining the path that we’ve been following”.
“We expect people doing business in Australia to comply with the laws of the land in Australia.
“There are already questions about the credibility of information and sources on the Facebook platform and the decision they’re taking, it seems, is what they want to do is remove authoritative and credible news sources on the platform.
“(Facebook is) effectively saying to Australians, ‘If you’re looking for reliable news, Facebook is not the place to look for it’.
Facebook’s actions this morning “raises very serious questions” he said.
“Including questions about the credibility of information that people want to find on Facebook.”
He urged Australians to seek their news from other sources to ensure they get “credible, fact checked information”.
He said agreements between news creators and Google “will help sustain public interest journalism in this country for years to come”.
The deal comes amid a tense battle between Australia’s biggest news publishers and multinational companies such as Google and Facebook over the nation’s proposed media bargaining code, which would see Google pay for original news content.
The Treasurer said he still intends to legislate the code.
What is the code of conduct for digital platforms?
Under the mandatory code of conduct, technology giants Google and Facebook would be required to negotiate with Australian media companies over payment for news content and notify them of algorithm changes.
It followed a direction from the Morrison Government, in December 2019, to facilitate the development of voluntary codes to address bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and news media businesses.
The development of a code of conduct is part of the government’s response to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry final report to promote competition, enhance consumer protection and support a sustainable Australian media landscape in the digital age.
“What we’ve sought to do is create a level playing field to ensure a fair go for Australian news media businesses and that when they generate original content, they are fairly paid for it,” Mr Frydenberg said in July.
“We want Google and Facebook to continue to provide these services to the Australian community which are so much loved and used by Australians. But we want it to be on our terms.
“We want it to be in accordance with our law and we want it to be fair, and that is what has motivated us with this mandatory code.”