On Thursday morning (Feb. 18), Facebook banned all Australian media content globally.
Facebook bans Australian news outlets on its platform, restricts people in Australia from accessing news
People and publishers in Australia can no longer share and view news in the country either.
The ban by the social media giant came shortly after the Australian House of Representatives passed proposed media bargaining laws which will require social media companies to pay its media outlets for using their content.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate and become law as early as later this month, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
In Sep. 2020, Facebook threatened to block news from being shared on its platform if the Australian government were to put in place its regulatory code forcing Facebook and Google to pay publishers for content.
Google to pay Australian media company for use of its news content
While Facebook went through with its ban, Google agreed to pay Australian news outlet Nine Entertainment Co more than A$30 million (S$30.97 million) annually for the use of its news content.
Nine, Australia's largest domestic media company, owns The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Google has also agreed to pay two other Australian media outlets for the use of their news content, according to BBC.
Hope for Australian government to "recognise the value Facebook already provides", says Facebook
In an open letter, the managing director of Facebook in Australia and New Zealand wrote that the proposed law by the government "fundamentally misunderstands" the relationship of Facebook's platform and publishers using 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."
The regional head assured that Australians using Facebook to connect with friends and family, grow their businesses and join communities will not be affected by the change.
Easton added that he hoped for the Australian government to "recognise the value" that the platform already provides, and to work with them "rather than limit our partnerships with publishers".
Aussies furious with Facebook, call for boycott
The sudden news ban took Australia by surprise, with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison describing it as a move by the tech giant to "unfriend Australia".On Twitter, hashtag #DeleteFacebook has also been trending in the country, with local businesses calling to pull all paid advertising on the platform as well.
Incensed users have also sought to boycott Facebook after its move to ban news content from the platform in Australia.
#DeleteFacebook if you're only reason is to read the news, in which case all news outlets have their own apps.— Dawnofthedinos (@Dawnofthedinos1) February 18, 2021
Australian Community Media asks us to #DeleteFacebook following its decision to remove news from its platform.— Tanya Selak (@GongGasGirl) February 18, 2021
'Facebook's action will take what is already a breeding ground for untruths and turn it into a festering swamp of disinformation.'https://t.co/ZIl4sotCE8 pic.twitter.com/8txSWSoBC6
Describing Facebook's move as a "tantrum", Sydney Morning Herald editor Lisa Davies warned that Facebook's move to ban news content on the social media platform has "exponentially increased the opportunity for misinformation, dangerous radicalism and conspiracy theories to abound on its platform".
Well, that’s a tantrum. Facebook has exponentially increased the opportunity for misinformation, dangerous radicalism and conspiracy theories to abound on its platform. Even more important to subscribe to a news outlet you respect. I suggest @smh obvs pic.twitter.com/6gwopjZJt0— Lisa Davies (@lisazdavies) February 17, 2021
Non-news outlets affected as well
In its bid to wipe out Australian news pages from its platform, Facebook's algorithm has also affected some non-news pages, including the World Wildlife Fund Australia and a community legal service page for women in Australia.
So Facebook has blocked access to our page😬— WWF_Australia (@WWF_Australia) February 18, 2021
To avoid missing out on our koala-ty 🐨 content be sure to follow us here on Twitter and on Instagram: @WWF_Australia #FacebookAustralia #facebooknewsban pic.twitter.com/wmLNRXkXiD
Ironically, Facebook's own page was also banned in the country.
Top image via Getty