EXPLAINER: What's up between Google, Facebook and Australia?

EXPLAINER: What's up between Google, Facebook and Australia?

Australia's proposed law would be the first of its kind, but other governments also are pressuring Google, Facebook and other internet companies to pay news outlets and other publishers for material.

The dominant social network blamed Australia's proposed law for its decision, and said the law "fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it".

The Federal Government has called on Facebook to protect the official pages of government agencies as a matter of urgency, after the accounts of several health departments were silenced in Facebook's blanket ban on Australian news content.

A number of popular Australian news and lifestyle businesses fear Facebook's shock ban on news content could prove fatal for their websites in the long-term.

"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".

From Thursday Australians were unable to post links to news articles or view the Facebook pages of local and global news outlets, while Aussie news sources disappeared from the site worldwide.

Facebook Inc. on Thursday blocked Australians from viewing or sharing news across its platform in response to a proposed law that would require the social media giant and other technology companies to pay news outlets for their content.

The announcement comes a day after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described as "very promising" negotiations between Facebook and Google with Australian media companies.

The Australian proposal penalizes Facebook "for content it didn't take or ask for", William Easton, managing director for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, said in a blog post.

Alphabet-owned Google also opposes the law and has threatened to shut its search engine in Australia if the legislation proceeds in its current form.

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Lisa Davies, editor of daily The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, owned by Nine Entertainment Co Ltd, tweeted: "Facebook has exponentially increased the opportunity for misinformation, unsafe radicalism and conspiracy theories to abound on its platform". A Facebook spokesperson said the CEO again "expressed our disappointment" with the proposed law and would continue to engage on amendments.

To that end, Austrlia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the AP last July that the the proposed bill was meant to give the Australian media, "a fair go" on major tech platforms.

Some of the blocked pages were later restored, though even Facebook's own page was briefly taken down.

In contrast to Facebook, Google has this week signed multi-million dollar deals with three major Australian broadcasters and publishers.

Australian citizens have voiced their anger at Facebook's decision.

The Facebook pages of Nine and 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.

"The value exchange between Facebook and publishers runs in favour of the publishers", it wrote, saying its platform generated 5.1 billion referrals to Australian publishers.

"The Morrison government's position is very clear - we will legislate this code", Frydenberg said, claiming the news shutdown confirmed the company's vast market power. News Corp said in its press release that the partnership will include developing a subscription platform, sharing ad revenue and investing in audio and video journalism. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg took personal responsibility Tuesday for the leak of data on tens of millions of its users, while warning of an "arms race" against Russian disinformation during a high stakes face-to-face with USA lawmakers.

"We also have our weekly newsletter, and from now, we'll introduce a new daily digest email to ensure that people don't miss the latest local news".

"Without fact-based news to anchor it, Facebook will become little more than a cute cats and conspiracy theories [page]", he said.

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