Australian PM rejects Facebook ‘threat’, vows to make tech giants pay
Australia’s prime minister on Friday urged Facebook to lift its blockade of Australian users and return to the negotiating table with news publishing businesses, warning that other countries would follow his government’s example in making digital giants pay for journalism.
The blockade has escalated a fight with the government over whether powerful tech companies should have to pay news organizations for content.
“The idea of shutting down the sorts of sites they did yesterday, as some sort of threat — well, I know how Australians react to that and I thought that was not a good move on their part,” Morrison told reporters.
“They should move quickly past that, come back to the table and we’ll sort it out,” he added.
There was public outrage at how the Facebook blockade was bungled, cutting access — at least temporarily — to pandemic, public health and emergency services.
Newspaper headlines included: “No likes for unsocial network,” and “Faceblock.”
An article about how fake news would replace credible journalism in Australian feeds carried the headline: “’Fakebook’ shows all it cares about is profit, not people.”
Some non-Australian outlets also appeared affected, with posts disappearing from Facebook pages belonging to Britain’s Daily Telegraph and Sky News. Both share names with news outlets in Australia.
The blockade was a response to the House of Representatives on Wednesday night passing a bill that would make Facebook and Google pay Australian media companies fair compensation for the journalism that the platforms link to. The legislation must be passed by the Senate to become law.