Facebook threatens to prevent people in Australia from sharing news if new regulation is enacted

Melbourne – Facebook warned on Monday that it will prevent people in Australia from sharing news on its platform if the Australian government moves forward with a plan to force both it and Google to pay news organisations for content shared on their platform.

This announcement follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission releasing its plan for a mandatory code of conduct in late July.

Under the plan, news organisations can negotiate with Google and Facebook over payments for their content – and if the groups reach an agreement after a three-month process, “an independent arbitrator would choose which of the two parties’ final offer is the most reasonable within 45 business days.”

Australia’s Treasures, Josh Frydenberg, said Facebook and Google could be forced to pay “substantial penalties” of hundreds of millions of dollars if they fail to adhere to the policy.

In a statement, Facebook said that the plan “misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect.”

“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,” said the company. “This is not our first choice – it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector.”

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