Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to move forward with the country’s proposed content laws that will see tech giants pay for journalism, despite Facebook’s unprecedented move to block news content in Australia.
Facebook’s new rules for Australian users mean that they cannot share Australian or international news and international users outside Australia also cannot share Australian news. The move has been widely condemned by healthcare and emergency services in Australia.
“There is a lot of world interest in what Australia is doing,” Morrison told reporters at a press conference in Sydney on Friday, local time.
He added: “That is why I invite…Facebook to constructively engage because they know that what Australia will do here is likely to be followed by many other Western jurisdictions.”
On Thursday, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault blasted Facebook for its news block in Australia. “I must condemn what Facebook is doing,” Guilbeault said in a news conference. “I think what Facebook is doing in Australia is highly irresponsible and compromises the safety of many Australian people.”
Guilbeault said his country would look to adopt the Australian approach as it begins the process of drawing up its own content legislation in the coming months.
Facebook’s decision to take the nuclear option and block news access and sharing has already led to a storm of criticism from the emergency services in Australia who rely on the social media platform to relay vital information on wildfires, floods, extreme weather and COVID-19 among other local interest and public safety issues.
Already, dozens of Australian children’s hospitals, neighborhood watch organizations, charities and NGOs have seen posts removed.
As Facebook’s increasingly fractious dispute with Australia’s government over the proposed content, its tech rivals have begun negotiating and striking deals with Australian publishers.
Google, after initially threatening to withdraw its services from Australia, has struck deals with Seven West Media and is close to commercial agreements with Nine Entertainment and national broadcaster ABC.
On Wednesday, Google has signed a landmark deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to pay for journalism from its global news sites including the company’s Australian assets.