UPDATED: Feb 18, 2021, 10:33 AM(IST)
The Australian government on Thursday slammed Facebook’s news blackout as “heavy-handed” after the social media giant blocked sharing of news in Australia.
Facebook’s move comes after the government decided to make it pay media groups for content. The move disrupted the pages of emergency services even as citizens were unable to view the Facebook pages of news outlets from anywhere in the world.
“Facebook was wrong. Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia,” Josh Frydenberg, the government’s treasurer, said.
Several other sectors including health, fire and meteorological services were also hit as their Facebook pages went down.
However, Facebook said, “official government pages should not be impacted by today’s announcement.” The government is posed to adopt legislation that would force digital platforms to pay for news content, a move which is being resisted by Facebook.
Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had said earlier that he had agreed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “to try to find a pathway forward”.
William Easton, Facebook’s manager for Australia and New Zealand had said earlier that, “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,” Easton said.