FACEBOOK has made the sensational decision to block all news access in Australia in retaliation against a proposed government move to charge the social media company for Australian journalism.
The decision has sparked widespread outrage as tensions continue to grow between governments and powerful tech companies.
It comes just a month after Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube decided to ban Donald Trump from their platforms, despite the fact that he was still an elected president at the time.
The Australian government immediately condemned Facebook's decision, which prevents the sharing and accessing of all news articles - including potentially vital governmental communications and messages about coronavirus and other public health issues.
One Australian minister called the move "an assault on a sovereign nation" and an egregious abuse of power.
Why did this happen?
For over two decades now, news outlets have complained that internet companies are making money off of their content, selling advertising linked to their articles without sharing any revenue.
This has become a particular problem since the rise of social media, and the subsequent decline of the news industry.
Australia is now looking to do something about it, and has joined the likes of France and a number of other governments by pushing the big-tech companies to pay.
They have proposed a new law which compels companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to pay news organisations for featuring their content.
Google initially threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia in response to the legislation, while Facebook has responded by blocking all users from accessing and sharing Australian news.
The social media giant argues that the proposed law "ignores the realities" of its relationship with news outlets that use its service to "share news content".
Despite the excuse, Facebook are effectively being accused of denying Australians access to news so that they don't have to fork out any more money.
Given the social responsibility companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter have, due to the fact that they're now the world's primary hubs for communication and news consumption, their decision to deny users the right to news in Australia feels nothing short of shameful.
It begs the question: Are social media companies becoming too powerful?