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Facebook to restrict news content in Australia in response to proposed law

Facebook to restrict news content in Australia in response to proposed law
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Facebook said Wednesday it will restrict news content in Australia over a proposed law that would require tech giants to pay publishers for it. 

Facebook’s update will restrict Australian publishers from sharing or posting content on the platform's pages and limit Australian users from viewing or sharing international publishers' links and posts.

Facebook has been issuing warnings about the proposal, and the platform said it felt it had to restrict the content as it inches closer to becoming law. 

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"The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter," Facebook’s managing director of Australia and New Zealand, William Easton, said in a blog post

The proposal would allow media companies to request payment from tech giants for news articles on their platform. It would subject Google and Facebook to mandatory price arbitration if a deal cannot be reached.

Facebook and Google have long been accused of harming news outlets over their algorithms and policies around sharing content, but the tech companies have pushed back on such accusations. 

Easton doubled down on the company’s defense in the Wednesday post. 

“For Facebook, the business gain from news is minimal. News makes up less than 4% of the content people see in their News Feed. Journalism is important to a democratic society, which is why we build dedicated, free tools to support news organisations around the world in innovating their content for online audiences,” Easton said. 

The changes affecting news content will not affect Facebook’s other products and services in Australia, according to the company. 

Google has similarly pushed back on the proposal, even threatening to pull its services from Australia last month. But in recent days Google has struck deals with news publishers for their content, including a deal announced over the weekend with Australian-based Seven West Media and a deal announced Wednesday morning with News Corp.