'Arrogant': Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison slams Facebook's move to block news

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Published: Feb 18, 2021, 03:13 PM(IST)

Morrison asserted that the decision was made on "health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest". Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Facebook's dramatic move represents a split from Alphabet Inc-owned Google after they joined together for years to campaign against the laws

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday slammed Facebook's move to block news in the country and called it ''arrogant''.

Morrison, on his Facebook page, said "Facebook's actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.

Fb

"These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Facebook's dramatic move represents a split from Alphabet Inc-owned Google after they joined together for years to campaign against the laws. Both had threatened to cancel services in Australia, but Google has instead sealed preemptive deals with several outlets in recent days.

Also read: Several key sectors hit as Facebook blocks news sharing in Australia

The move was swiftly criticised by news producers, politicians and human rights advocates, particularly as it became clear that official health pages, emergency safety warnings and welfare networks had all been scrubbed from the site along with news.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp was the latest to announce a deal in which it will receive "significant payments" from Google in return for providing content for the search engine's News Showcase account.

The Australian law would require Facebook and Google to reach commercial deals with news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms or be subjected to forced arbitration to agree a price.

Facebook said in its statement that the law, which is expected to be passed by parliament within days, "fundamentally misunderstands" the relationship between itself and publishers and it faced a stark choice of complying or banning news content.

The tech giant has said news makes up just 4 per cent of what people view on its website, but for Australians Facebook's role in news delivery is growing.

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