Australian government proposed a law requiring the most popular social media companies to pay for using news contents from Australian media outlets, which didn't go well with the tech giants. Weeks after such proposed new media code, Facebook has apparently started blocking Australian residents or publishers that shared or posted any news content on its global social media platform. Inconvenience increased when this ban started getting implemented on the official pages of the Australian government and even the non-profitable agencies as well.
Popular pages like Doctors without Borders, St. Vincent's Health, the Bureau of Meteorology, Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA, and the health department Pages for ACT, South Australia, NSW and Queensland have come under this unfortunate crossfire; even though they are non-media accounts. Users from all over the world are now unable to access any content on these pages and a consequently it has left both the users and the creators of these pages in distress.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has assured its citizen that this arrogant move of the social media giant is not something to get daunted by. Josh Frydenberg, treasurer, has said to have exchanged words with Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook regarding the ban and a possible amicable solution as well.
Facebook, on the other hand, has defended its decision regarding the ban under the veil of taking broad definition of the proposed media code. The global social media platform has stated that the guidance on implementation of the proposed media law of the Australian government is not specific enough. The definition of media content is unclear, which apparently led them to resort to broader definition of the law.
In a statement given to Engadget, a Facebook spokesperson said, "Government and non-news Pages should not be impacted by today's announcement. The actions we're taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content. However, we will reverse any Pages that are inadvertently impacted."
Following the debacle, although Facebook has restored most of the concerned accounts that were affected by this ban and working on allowing the non-media organizations their access back on the social media platform, the problem is far from getting solved.
Ever since the Australian government initiated working on the new media law, it has landed itself into a bitter conflict with Google and Facebook. This new law requires mandatory payment to news organizations by these companies for using their news media content, which doesn't seem to be a feasible option for any of the tech leaders. In its initial response, Facebook had stated that if such law is implemented it would be compelled to remove news as a product from their platform.
Google, on the other hand, had put a firm foot during an Australian senate hearing by stating, if the controversial media law is put in action in the country then they will have "no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia."