Facebook’s news ban is SLAMMED as ‘wrong, unnecessary and heavy-handed’ in scathing response by defiant treasurer Josh Frydenberg – as he insists tech giants will be forced to pay fair share
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has slammed Facebook’s decision to remove Australian news from the social media network as ‘wrong, unnecessary and heavy-handed’.
Facebook announced on Thursday that Australian users and publishers would be restricted from viewing or sharing domestic and international news on the site.
The move is in response to the proposed Media Bargaining law, which would force tech companies like Facebook and Google to negotiate with news providers to feature their content.
Mr Frydenberg said the social media giant was ‘wrong’ in its decision, which he believes will ‘damage its reputation here in Australia’.
‘Their decision to block Australians’ access to government sites – be they about support through the pandemic, mental health, emergency services, the Bureau of Meteorology – were completely unrelated to the media code which is yet to pass through the Senate,’ he said.
‘What today’s events do confirm for all Australians is the immense market power of these media digital giants.
‘These digital giants loom very, very large in our economy and on the digital landscape.
Mr Frydenberg said the Morrison government remains committed to legislating and implementing the code.
Facebook has also blocked important government information pages including the weather bureau, health departments and police agencies.
In the process, charities and community groups have been targeted in the widespread censorship blitz.
The social media giant claims it has been left with no choice, arguing the bargaining code is poorly worded.
‘As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted,’ a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.
‘However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted.’
More to come