Facebook criticised for banning sharing of news in Australia

  • Facebook has followed through on its threat to ban news sharing in Australia in response to a new law forcing it to share profits with media creators.

    Who benefits when you share news on social media? The news site itself may get a significant boost in traffic from a story going viral, but it's the social media platform itself that reaps much of the financial gain. In addition to advertising directly generating revenue on Facebook, discussions on the platform generate data on users that can be used to target advertising.

    Last year Australia proposed its new News Media Bargaining Code law that aimed to tackle the generation of profit by the world's largest tech firms at the expense of content creators. The law requires any online advertising-based firm to give news creators advance warning of changes to their algorithms and to pay content creators whenever news stories are shared on their platforms.

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    Both Facebook and Google objected to the law at the time, and Facebook threatened to block the sharing of news entirely in Australia if the law came into effect. This week the global tech giant followed through on its threat and banned all Australian users from viewing or sharing international or local news on the site.

    Facebook has come under fire recently for failure to block the sharing of fake news and inflammatory content, and this latest move shows that the company may have had the capability to block news from problematic sources and chosen not to. News organisations have voiced concerns that that this ban could also lead to a boom in misinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories.

    RELATED: Facebook is tracking violent language, and it's on the rise

    Google previously voiced its concerns that search results could be dramatically impacted by the new law, and later threatened to pull its search engine from the country entirely. After initially warning that the new law gives big news creators an artificial advantage, Google has now signed deals with several major news publishers in Australia.

    Source: BBC News, The Verge

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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