Facebook - Australia spat: News contents blocked over media law

Facebook - Australia spat: News contents blocked over media law

The Facebook pages of Nine, News Corp, which together dominate the country's metro newspaper market

People in Australia can no longer find news on Facebook (FB).

Facebook said Wednesday that people and publishers in Australia cannot share and view news from local and international outlets. The announcement is a response to proposed legislation in Australia that would force tech platforms to pay news publishers for content.

"What the proposed law introduced in Australia fails to recognize is the fundamental nature of the relationship between our platform and publishers," Campbell Brown, Facebook's vice president of global news partnerships, wrote in a blog post. "Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook does not steal news content. Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook."

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The Facebook pages of Nine, News Corp, which together dominate the country's metro newspaper market, and the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corp, which acts as a central information source during natural disasters, were blank.

"I hope in the future, we can include news for people in Australia once again," Brown added.

During a January hearing in Australia's senate, Facebook had suggested it could block content in the country if the bill becomes law. Google (GOOG) threatened in the same hearing to shut down its search engine in Australia altogether.

But before Facebook's announcement Wednesday, Google signaled that it's headed in the opposite direction — rather than leaving Australia, it appears to be deepening its relationships with publishers there.Google and News Corp (NWS) — the Rupert Murdoch-owned news conglomerate that includes much of Australian media as well as some UK outlets and the Wall Street Journal and New York Post in the United States — announced a three-year deal under which the tech giant will pay to license News Corp. content.

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