Facebook has threatened to block Australian publishers from sharing news on its platform as well as Instagram as the country wants the social network to pay media companies for using their content.
Facebook said that the new regulation would force it to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on its platforms “and at a price that ignores the financial value it brings publishers”.
“We are left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits,” Will Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand, said in a blog post on Monday.
“Unfortunately, no business can operate that way”.
Facebook said that Australia is drafting a regulation that misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect.
The government has ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a mandatory code of conduct for Facebook and Google that will force the tech giants to pay media companies for using their content.
“When crafting this new legislation, the commission overseeing the process ignored important facts, most critically the relationship between the news media and social media and which one benefits most from the other,” Easton said.
Facebook in June rejected the call from the Australian government to pay media companies for using their content.
“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram. This is not our first choice – it is our last,” The Facebook executive stressed.
The ACCC presumes that Facebook benefits most in its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true.
Facebook said that news represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for it.
Over the first five months of 2020, the company said it sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge – additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million AUD to Australian publishers.
“We already invest millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and, during discussions over this legislation, we offered to invest millions more,” Easton said.
Facebook said its products and services in Australia that allow family and friends to connect will not be impacted by its decision.