Facebook Threatens to Ban Sharing News in Australia if ACCC Code is Made Law

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill
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Facebook has threatened to to ban all news on its platforms in Australia if the ACCC’s draft code on publishing is made law. If passed, the consumer watchdog’s code would force Facebook, Google and media companies to negotiate over paying for news.

On Tuesday, the company published a statement from Managing Director for Facebook Australia & New Zealand, Will Easton, where he spoke about a nuclear option in response to ACCC’s draft code.

“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.”

Why Facebook is threatening to ban news for Australian users

The ACCC’s draft code will require the tech giants to bargain with Australian news publishers “over payment for inclusion of news on their services.” It also stipulates that Facebook and Google would have to tell publishers about changes to their algorithm that would affect them, promote original reporting and disclose what information is being collecting from users.

In the post, Easton said the company wants to help news in Australia, but fears that this code would “hurt, not help the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news media sector.”

Easton said the ACCC has it all wrong about who benefits from news being shared on Facebook. He claims it’s not Facebook that gets value from news, but the news media organisations benefiting from Facebook.

According to the company, more than 2.3 billion Australian users clicked on news in Facebook. The company values this traffic at $200 million to Australian publishers, that earn money through advertising and subscriptions.

For these reasons, Facebook would rather pick up its metaphorical ball and take it home than do what the ACCC is proposing.

How has everyone else responded to the ACCC’s draft code?

While Facebook has remained silent about the proposed code, others have spoken out about the ACCC’s proposed regulation.

Earlier this month, Google went public with its opposition to the draft code with a campaign directly appealing to the public.Meanwhile, Australian journalism groups have broadly supported the changes.

The ACCC’s public consultation for the draft code closed on August 28.