Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison blames Facebook for having “unfriended his country.” He said this after the company decided to limit the opportunities to share news in Australia.
Facebook took the measure because of an Australian bill. That would oblige the company, including Google, to pay for sharing news content from now on. Subsequently, Facebook pages of government agencies, charities and other organizations would have been blamed. Also disappeared Facebook posts in which people shared Australian news.
The company states in a statement that government pages should not be affected by the changed policy for sharing news by Australian users. However, Facebook says that it gives the concept of news “a broad definition” “because the law does not provide a clear explanation of the definition of news content.”
Politicians reacted ferociously. Morrison complained remarkably enough in a Facebook post. He called it “arrogant” and “disappointing” that the company has closed access to pages of “essential information” of health organizations and emergency services. Some pages could be visited later.
Prime Minister Mark McGowan of Western Australia blameed Facebook “acting more like North Korea than an American company.” Human rights organisations also reacted with concern. “It is unscrupulous to close access to critical information across a country in the middle of the night,” said Human Rights Watch in a written statement.
The new rules also affect Google. That billion-dollar company first started with Facebook, but now its throwing it over a different course. Its already made deals with news companies in Australia. Google did not want to respond to Facebooks decision.
From June this year, companies like Facebook will also have to pay publishers in the Netherlands for posting news items. Facebook is currently looking at how it applies that rule. This is independent of the situation in Australia, says Facebook, which does not address the question whether it threatens to blackmail the news in the Netherlands as well.