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Australia passes world-first media law forcing Facebook and Google to pay for news content

AUSTRALIA passed a world-first media law forcing Facebook and Google to pay for news content.

Facebook struck a deal with lawmakers after receiving backlash for their controversial decision to block Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on it’s platform.

The decision to “unfriend Australia” has been described as “disgraceful” by politicians in Australia.

Facebook‘s decision came in response to a proposed law compelling tech giants to pay for journalism.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison blasted the social media giant and said the country would not be “intimidated” by the tech giant’s actions “to unfriend Australia”.

“This is an assault on a sovereign nation,” Health Minster Greg Hunt told Parliament.

“It is an assault on people’s freedom and, in particular, it’s an utter abuse of big technologies’ market power and control over technology.”

The legislation, which was amended and given the thumbs up by Australia’s Senate will return to its House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass as early as this week.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it would restore Australian users’ access to news in light of the compromise it had reached with the government.

On Wednesday, Facebook said it plans to spend at least $1billion in the news industry over the next three years.

The social media platform’s decision will follow Google’s pledge last October to pay publishers $1billion over the next three years.

“We’ve invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion over the next three years,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, said in a blog Wednesday.

“Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers. We absolutely recognize quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function — informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful to account.”

The ground-breaking legislation could be used as a stepping stone for governments worldwide on how to deal with the power imbalance with big tech.

Last week, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp reached a deal with Google that will see them pay for stories.

The deal by the ultimate owner of The Sun and The Times will see the media company contribute to Google News Showcase, an update to its news search platform.

The Sun will be among the many News Corp publications joining the showcase and the payments involved will be “significant”.

Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp, said that the deal would have “a positive impact on journalism around the globe as we have firmly established that there should be a premium for premium journalism.”

He added: “This has been a passionate cause for our company for well over a decade and I am gratified that the terms of trade are changing, not just for News Corp, but for every publisher.”


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