Australia Didn’t Know The News Ban Was Coming

Australia Didn’t Know The News Ban Was Coming
Facebook: Josh Frydenberg

Despite being warned multiple times, the Australian Government said Facebook’s decision to ban news on its platforms in Australia took them by surprise.

At a press conference on Thursday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told reporters they didn’t have any forewarning about Facebook’s response to the proposed news media bargaining code.

“We certainly weren’t given any notice by Facebook,” Frydenberg said.

Frydenberg said he was blindsided even though he had been in close contact with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

I spoke to him over the weekend, but I also spoke to him this morning. We had a pretty lengthy conversation, around half an hour, and it was constructive,” he said.

“I think there’s some differing interpretations as to how the code would work. And we talked through some of those elements. And we’re happy to help clarify some of those issues with Facebook.”

This is despite Facebook repeatedly suggesting that the company would restrict news if the news media bargaining code went through.

Now that Facebook has banned news — where to from here?

The government insists that they’re standing strong and won’t back done from passing the news media bargaining code law as early as next week week.

We will look at their actions today. We’ll hear from them in the coming days. And we’ll see if we can find a pathway forward. But the Morrison Government’s position is very clear. We will legislate this code,” Frydenberg said.

“We want the digital giants paying traditional news media businesses for generating original journalistic content. This is critical to sustaining public interest journalism in this country, and this is world-leading.”

The other tech giant subject to the legislation, Google, has signed multiple agreements with big Australian publishers rather than pulling their services.

As of now, Facebook hasn’t signed any agreements. And its decision to ban news in Australia is just that: a decision it has voluntarily made.

You can read more about how the ban will effect you right here.