The Australian prime minister called on Facebook on Friday to lift its blockade of Australian consumers and return to the negotiating table with news companies, warning that other countries would follow his government’s example to get digital giants to pay for journalism.
The blockade is escalating a battle with the government over whether powerful technology companies should pay news organizations for content.
“The idea of closing the sites they made yesterday as a threat – I know how Australians react to that, and I thought it wasn’t a good move on their part,” Morrison told reporters.
“They need to move quickly past this, return to the table and we will put it in order,” he added.
Public outrage was linked to the blocking of the blockade on Facebook, which limited access – at least temporarily – to pandemics, public health and emergency services.
Newspaper headlines included: “No likes on non-social network” and “Face blocking”.
An article about how fake news will replace credible journalism on Australian shows is titled: “The Fake Book shows that all she cares about is profit, not people.”
Some countries outside Australia also appeared affected, with posts disappearing from Facebook pages belonging to Britain’s Daily Telegraph and Sky News. Both share names with news agencies in Australia.
The blockade was a response from the House of Representatives on Wednesday night, passing a bill that would make Facebook and Google pay Australian media companies fair compensation for the journalism to which the platforms link. The law must be passed by the Senate to become law.
Google has responded by rapidly developing content licensing deals with major Australian media companies on its own News Showcase model.
News Corp. Rupert Murdoch announced a comprehensive deal with Google covering operations in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as in Australia. Australia’s main media organization Seven West Media also reached a deal earlier in the week. Rival Nine Entertainment is reportedly close to its own contract, and state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. negotiates.
Morrison said he had discussed the dispute on Facebook with the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in Thursday. Morrison is also discussing Australia’s proposed law with the leaders of Britain, Canada and France.
“There’s a lot of global interest in what Australia is doing,” Morrison said. “That’s why I urge Facebook, as we did with Google, to engage constructively, because they know that what Australia will do here is likely to be followed by many other Western jurisdictions.”
Cashier Josh Friedenberg, the minister responsible for the proposed Media News Negotiation Code, had a telephone conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after the blockade began on Thursday and again on Friday.
“We talked to the rest of their problems and agreed that our respective teams would work with them immediately. We’ll talk again over the weekend, “Friedenberg tweeted on Friday.
“I have confirmed that Australia remains committed to the implementation of the code,” Friedenberg added.
Friedenberg claims that Facebook had constructive negotiations with the Australian media on payment deals just before the surprise blockade.
Facebook said Thursday that the proposed Australian law “essentially does not understand the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it.”
Morrison said his government was “happy to hear them on technical issues” but remained determined to pass the law.
“It’s not good to give up Australia because Australia is very friendly,” Morrison said. “We would like to remain very friendly and it is time for them to welcome us again.”
Is the Samsung Galaxy S21 + the ideal flagship for most Indians? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts,, Google Podcasts, or RSS,, download the episodeor just press the play button below.