Facebook news may be blocked in Australia, according to Meta

Facebook news may be blocked in Australia, according to Meta
Facebook news may be blocked in Australia, according to Meta

At a parliamentary hearing, a corporate representative stated that Facebook’s parent firm, Meta, is considering deleting news content from the site in Australia if the government demands it pay licensing fees.

A corporate spokesman testified at a parliamentary hearing on Friday that Facebook’s parent company, Meta (META.O.), is thinking of removing news material from the platform in Australia if the government requires it to pay licensing costs. When questioned if Meta will prevent Australians from sharing news material in order to avoid paying fees, Mia Garlick, regional policy director for Meta, responded to lawmakers by saying that “all options are on the table.” “People can obtain news content from a multitude of channels,” Garlick responded to the question.

According to her, Meta was waiting on Canberra to determine whether to implement a 2021 law that provides the government with the authority to determine how much US tech companies must pay media outlets for links. The statements provide the most evidence to date that Meta will adopt the same strict stance in Australia as it did in Canada in 2023, when that nation enacted legislation of a similar nature. When the law was passed in Australia, Meta negotiated agreements with Australian media companies such as News Corp. (NWSA.O.), opened a new tab, and the Australia However, it has subsequently stated that it will not extend such agreements past 2024.

The assistant treasurer of Australia will now have to determine if she wants to intervene and make Facebook pay for journalistic material. According to the assistant treasurer, Meta appears to follow the law only when it is convenient, but he is still gathering advice. The biggest free-to-air television providers in Australia, Nine Entertainment (NEC.AX) and Seven West Media (SWM.AX), both opened new tabs this week and announced job cuts, citing income losses when their contracts with Meta expire.

When asked on Friday if banning Facebook news in Australia would be considered breaking the law, Meta’s Garlick responded that it would be. “Every other law—tax laws, safety laws, privacy laws—we work to comply with,” she stated. “It’s just that compliance would look slightly different in relation to this law if it’s fully enacted.” Although Garlick pointed out that Meta’s content moderation centers were all located abroad, she supported Meta’s procedures, enabling Australians to file complaints if they felt the company was disseminating fraudulent or damaging misinformation.

When asked about Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, a cryptocurrency scammer who is suing Meta for using his image in scam marketing, Garlick responded that although the company has procedures in place to identify and thwart scams, “there are a lot of challenges.” Senator Sarah Hanson-Young of the Green Party questioned how Meta could call itself an advertising company since “some ads sell lies.” “We have policies, systems, and tools to do everything we can to prevent those ads,” answered Garlick.

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