In an unexpected move by the social networking giant, Facebook, it announced on Tuesday, Feb. 23, that it will reverse its block on Australian users sharing news on its site and would even be willing to accept the government’s proposed media regulations requiring it to pay for published content.
Following announcements in late January that Australia would soon pass a regulation requiring Google and Facebook to pay media outlets for the right to use their content, the social networking giant blocked all content from news outlets on its platform in Australia as of Thursday, Feb. 18. The ban also included government pages and content. Criticism from officials did not take long to arrive.
The block was carried out by Facebook following through on its threat to restrict Australians from sharing news on its platform in response to a media bargaining code proposed by Australian lawmakers, which would require Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets royalties for using their content.
However, the Australian authorities were not swayed by pressure from the Internet monopolies, and far from backing down on their plans, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was heard calling Facebook “arrogant,” and warning, “These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.”
The Australian in charge of negotiating with Facebook on the future of the relationship was Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. It appears that the discussions between Frydenburg and Mark Zuckerberg were fruitful and paid off in the government’s favor, also curbing the public backlash against Facebook.
“Mark Zuckerberg said to me today [restoring pages] will occur in coming days,” Frydenberg said, ABC reported.
The eyes of the world are watching the conflict between Big Tech and Australia, because the subjugation of the tech giants has no borders and really affects all areas and countries. They regulate information, impose ideas, and censor dissidents. Australia will figure as a pioneer country in putting the brakes on the advance of Big Tech.
Along with Australia there is a list of countries that are also interested in taking concrete actions or have already implemented some kind of regulation. Such is the case with India and Great Britain, who announced that they watched the media battle in Australia with interest and have indicated plans to follow Canberra’s example.
Canada went a step further and, as Breitbart reported, Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said last Thursday that his country will now make Facebook compensate Canadian news organizations for using its content just as Australia has done.
Polish Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta announced fines of up to $13.5 million for tech giants that impose censorship measures on users residing in Poland that are not justified under local laws.
Speaking to Fox News, Kaleta said that social networking companies have targeted conservatives, Christianity, and traditional values by banning them or removing posts.
“We see that when big tech decides to remove content for political purposes, it’s mostly content that praises traditional values or conservatism,” Kaleta said, “and it’s removed under their ‘hate speech policy’ when they don’t have the legal right to do so.”
Undoubtedly, resistance, international pressure and social condemnation are important to stop the unscrupulous advances of the powerful concentrated in Silicon Valley, today proved to be the case.