Facebook has decided to block both Australian users and media companies from sharing links to news articles and related content on its main social network, following the country’s proposed landmark regulatory measure that would force tech giants to pay Australian news organizations for using their content.
The bill passed the Australian House of Representatives today and is believed to have enough votes to pass the Senate, The New York Times reported. The bill also targets Google, which at one point last month threatened to leave the country entirely. However, Google has since decided to start cutting deals with major Australian media organizations, like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., to comply. Facebook, it appears, will not follow suit — for now.
Can you imagine an internet without an <a herf> tag? There’s no internet. Facebook seems to understand this; they’re not even allowing Australian news publishers to post their content to Facebook anymore. And I hate to say it, but I agree with Facebook. Let the struggling news industry see what it’s like to break a fundamental and essential part of the internet.
Of course, on the other side of the coin is Facebook’s algorithmic news feed, and the people of Australia are probably better off not getting their news from Facebook.
But Australian law is setting a dangerous and potentially damaging precedent for how to treat a link, and the consequences of it could be far reaching if other countries see Google bow to the publisher’s demands.