Why has Facebook banned news in Australia?
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Why has Facebook banned news in Australia?

LAST week, Facebook made the rather controversial decision to block all Australians from reading or sharing news on their platform.

It created something of a news blackout for millions of people across the country, who predominantly use the social media site for news consumption.

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.

But why has Facebook done this, and what started this bizarre row between them and the Aussie government?

Here's everything you need to know:

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What started the row?

Facebook chose to impose a block on all news outlets on their platform in response to a piece of legislation proposed by the Australian government.

They've put forward a new law which compels companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to pay news organisations for featuring their content.

Why has this law been proposed?

For over two decades, news outlets have complained that internet companies are making money off of their content by 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.

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Response

Facebook responded by blocking all Australian news, so there'd be no reason for them to pay the government. They argued that the proposed law "ignores the realities" of Facebook's relationship with news outlets that use its service to "share news content".

The government however condemned their actions, arguing that Facebook has launched "an assault on a sovereign nation" and are horrifically abusing their power as an unelected private company with no enforced political responsibility.

Google has also threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia in response to the legislation.

Growing tension

Facebook's decision sparked widespread outrage all over the world, with tensions continuing 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.

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While opponents of the former president celebrated the bans, many were troubled by the idea of private companies having the power to decide what the leader of the free world can and cannot say.

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.