Australians could be blocked from sharing news content on Facebook and Instagram, if a world-first attempt to govern how media companies deal with big tech becomes law.

Facebook has issued the threat in response to a proposed law that would see it and Google forced to pay Australian media organisations for hosting their content.

“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” a statement from Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand managing director Will Easton said.

“This is not our first choice – it is our last.

“But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector.”

Easton took aim at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which developed the draft code, accusing it of ignoring the role social media plays in promoting journalism.

He argued that in the first five months of 2020, users had clicked on Australian news items shared on the platform 2.3 billion times, which the company said generated $200 million in revenue for Australian media organisations.

“When crafting this new legislation, the commission overseeing the process ignored important facts, most critically the relationship between the news media and social media and which one benefits most from the other,” Easton said.

“News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us.”

It is understood Facebook is still working through how any news ban would be implemented.

The tech giant has also updated its terms of service, which come into effect next month.

SOURCE – RADIO NZ

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