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.
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. Those outside of the country are also unable to read or access any Australian news publications on the platform. The Australian government has strongly criticised the move, saying it demonstrated the “immense market power of these digital social giants”.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday blasted Facebook’s actions as harmful to its presence in the country, calling the potential legislation “important” reform. He said the government was committed to passing the law, and “we would like to see them [Facebook] in Australia.