The Australians who entered their Facebook profile this Thursday were informatively left in the dark after the company fulfilled its threat to block local or international media content to its millions of users in the country. The blackout also affected those who consult the social network from outside Australia, who no longer receive information from the media of the oceanic country, according to the AFP agency.
The decision represents a qualitative leap in the pulse it has faced for a decade to publishers and big technology companies and that, until now, was developed more in the field of threats than of facts. The media consider that Google or Facebook take advantage of the work of content creators without providing any remuneration, while snatching most of the advertising pie. Google and Facebook allege that thanks to them the number of readers has multiplied.
The company's maneuver responds to the bill introduced by the Scott Morrison government, which is being debated in the Senate and which claims that Facebook and Alphabet – Google parent – pay publishers for links to their news on these platforms. Some pages linked to the Department of Health and others of Emergencies, as well as some charities, were also blocked, although Facebook later rectified and left them operational.
Facebook's response contrasts with that of Google, which hours before had announced that will pay News Corp, Rupert Murdoch's empire, over the next three years for the material distributed by many of his empire's headers. Among them, The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, MarketWatch and The New York Post in the United States; The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun in the UK; and other publications in Australia such as The Australian, Sky News and news.com.au. The deal could mean a new rapprochement between Canberra and the Mountain View firm and comes after the search giant agreed to disburse € 63 million to 121 press publishers in France, according to Reuters.
“arrogant” response In a reflection posted precisely on Facebook, the Australian Prime Minister classified the blockade as "arrogant", while warning of the attitude that characterizes some of the big technology companies. “These actions confirm the concerns that a large number of countries are expressing in reference to the behavior of big tech, that they believe they are more important than the rulers and that they consider that the laws are not made so that they comply. They may be changing the world, but that doesn't give them the right to run it, ”Morrison hung up. “We will not allow them to intimidate us or pressure our Parliament, now that the draft on the canon relating to news in digital format is being voted on. In the same way that we did not give in when Amazon threatened to leave the country, "added the head of Government.
" Companies operating in Australia have a duty to comply with the laws passed by Parliament, "said Paul Fletcher, Minister of Communications. His Finance counterpart, Josh Frydenberg, called Facebook's strategy "useless and authoritarian" and damaging to its image.
The bill has been debated for almost a year. Promoted by the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC, for its acronym in English), it aims to force the two large platforms to negotiate a price for their content with publishers. According to the Australian bill, the price to pay would not depend only on the negotiating capacity of each medium with Google or Facebook, but would go to an external arbitration if there was no agreement.
Facebook, for its part, affirms that the new The bill starts from a wrong base, since the media themselves are the first interested in projecting their content there, since thanks to their power of dissemination they can reach more people. “Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook doesn't steal news content. The media choose to post their notes on Facebook because they find new readers, get subscribers and improve their income. News organizations would not use Facebook if it did not contribute to their profitability, "William Easton, Facebook's manager in Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement on Wednesday. According to Facebook, Australian publishers were able to raise around € 261 million from mentions on Zuckerberg's platform.
The Facebook blackout in Australia has a remote precedent in Spain. In 2014, Google kicked the media out of its Google News platform in response to the intellectual property law that forced aggregators to pay for indexed information. In the medium term, the measure did not affect the traffic of newspapers, which followed on Google, but outside of the aforementioned tool.
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