Last year, Facebook made a threat to block publishers and users in Australia from posting local and international news on its main service as well as Instagram if the country passed a bill that would require the tech giants to pay media organizations for their content. Now, the social media giant has shown that it was serious.
Facebook announced today that it will now enforce restrictions on how international and Australian news content is shared in the country. The latest move is in response to Australia's proposed Media Bargaining law, which the company criticized for its lack of understanding about the connection between Facebook's platform and publishers in terms of content sharing. William Easton, Managing Director for Facebook Australia & New Zealand, remarked that "the proposed law fundamentally fails to understand how our services work".
The change in policy will result in a serious impact on the ability of both consumers and publishers in Australia to share and view news content. For publishers, Facebook is removing their ability to post content on Pages while publishers elsewhere won't be able to share links and posts with their Australian readers via Facebook.
For users, Facebook will block them from sharing or viewing news content from both local and international publishers on the platform. Users in other countries will also be prevented from posting or viewing content coming from Australian publishers or news Pages.
Facebook will use a mix of technologies to block content sharing and implement new measures to review any content it may have accidentally removed. Google also threatened last month to exit Australia if the proposed legislation would pass into law, although it has now signed a three-year agreement with News Corp. to feature its content on News Showcase. The deal covers the media conglomerate's brands in the U.S., UK, and Australia like The Australian.
Facebook's decision won't affect other Facebook services in the country. For example, Page admins can still access Page insights and Creator Studio. In addition, access to authoritative information centers such as the COVID-19 Information Center will stay in place while Facebook's work with Agence France-Presse and Australian Associated Press to verify content shared on the platform will continue.