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Facebook tells Australia to kick rocks over a proposed profit-sharing law for news articles

Facebook says if the law goes through it would look to ban users and news outlets from sharing news articles on the platform.

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Image: KnowTechie

In a recent announcement, Facebook revealed a somewhat “radical” stance on an upcoming Australian law. According to the announcement, the company is ready to ban both individual users and news agencies in Australia from sharing news. Basically, the proposed law in Australia would make Facebook share some of its profits with news outlets.

The ACCC, which stands for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, is behind this initiative. They claim it will “level the playing field” among publishers whose advertising revenue is lowest. Furthermore, the ACCC described Facebook’s stance as “misconceived” and “ill-timed.”

Will Easton, the Facebook managing director for Australia and New Zealand, has now spoken up on the matter in a Facebook Newsroom post.

One of his main points was that it doesn’t make sense for Facebook to pay publishers for their content while at the same time sending them free internet traffic from their platform. According to Facebook’s data, in the first five months of the year, Australian news outlets received more than 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook and Instagram. That’s internet traffic worth around $200 million AUD.

He also downplayed the significance of news content by saying how it represents only a small percentage of what most people see on their newsfeeds. By doing so, he suggested that Facebook’s revenue from news content is not that important for them.

But he also didn’t forget to mention that banning news is not their first choice, but is instead a last resort. Finally, Easton added that the law could even have long-term adverse effects on Australia’s media and the local news sector.

In a recent study conducted by the University of Canberra, almost 40% of Australians consume “general news” via Facebook. Furthermore, half of the country receives news regarding the coronavirus pandemic from the social platform.

Even though the profit-sharing initiative is in its early stages, it is already drawing a lot of attention and support from various places. Rupert Murdoch, the news media mogul and the owner of The Australian, is already putting his weight and influence in support of some profit-sharing initiative.

The Australian government still doesn’t have a strong stance and encourages all parties to sit together at a negotiating table and work out an agreement for now.

What do you think? Do you agree with Australia or Facebook on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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