Australia has criticized Facebook for banning users from sharing news content and news stories, calling it “abuse of power and abuse”.
According to the French news agency AFP, Australian users could not share the link of any news article on their platform on Thursday morning and they could not access the Facebook pages of local and international news agencies. Not only that, but overseas users are also unable to view the pages of Australian news agencies.
The Australian government has introduced a law requiring Facebook to pay local media outlets to use the content.
Facebook and other technology firms opposed the Australian law, fearing it would set a precedent around the world and could be detrimental to their business model.
Facebook responded by threatening to ban news sharing.
“Facebook is wrong,” says Australian lawyer Josh Friedenberg. Facebook’s actions are unnecessary and it is misusing its power, thus affecting its reputation here in Australia.
“The government is fully committed to implementing its plan,” he said.
Friedenberg’s statement came after a tweet in which he said he had a constructive conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Many emergency services agencies and government pages have also been affected by the ban, which provided information on coronavirus epidemics, forest fires, and hurricanes.
A Facebook spokesman said today’s announcement would not apply to the government’s official pages and that the company would restore unintentionally affected pages.
Alan Pearson, director of Human Rights Watch in Australia, called the ban “dangerous” and said it was “irresponsible” to block access to important information for the whole country.
Google had also expressed concern over the proposed Australian law, saying that if it were to become law, it would have no choice but to shut down the service.
While the law may endanger an individual’s privacy, it may also affect the way Australian consumers use the company’s services for free.
Local media outlets and NGOs supported the government’s move, and now media houses have expressed concerns over Facebook’s move.