Australian government officials said on the 19th that they are talking with Facebook, a social media platform, to discuss how to resolve their dispute over a news payment bill.
The lower house of the Australian Federal Parliament, the house of Representatives, passed the bill on the 17th. The bill, called “mandatory bargaining guidelines for news media and digital platforms”, requires Internet companies to pay Australian media that broadcast news when using news links.
The bill was drafted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in April last year, deliberated in Parliament in December last year, and passed in the house of Representatives on 17 this month. The Senate is scheduled to start a debate on the bill on the 22nd. If it goes well, the bill is expected to be approved and become law by the end of next week.
In response, Facebook banned users from sharing news links on the 18th. In addition, some news media on Facebook’s home page cannot be opened in Australia. Some non news organizations, such as meteorological, fire and health departments, were also affected that day. Their Facebook pages could not be opened for a time and returned to normal after a few hours.
Australian Treasury minister Josh Friedenberg said on the 19th that he had talked with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on how to resolve the dispute, and the two sides will continue their talks this weekend.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Facebook’s ban on reading news a “threatening act” and urged Facebook on the 19th to “act as soon as possible and return to the negotiating table.”.
Morrison also said that Australia’s move to set a world precedent and promote relevant legislation has received widespread public attention and support from many countries. He has discussed the latest situation with the leaders of India and Canada.
Facebook defended its practice, accusing the Australian side of “fundamentally misunderstanding” the relationship between social media platforms and media organizations. “Facebook did not steal news content, but news organizations chose to share news content on Facebook.”.
According to charltbeat, a website traffic analysis company, after Facebook banned users from sharing news, the number of visits to major news websites in Australia decreased significantly, especially the number of visits from overseas decreased by 20% in a single day. At the same time, the phenomenon of users abandoning Facebook due to inconvenience in reading news has not yet appeared.
Australian News Corp. Executive Chairman Michael Miller said in a Senate inquiry that the news media have not yet felt the full impact of Facebook. Although the drain from Facebook is broken, “the number of direct visits to our website is rising in double digits.”.
According to Facebook, news subscriptions account for only 4% of its total subscribers. Although the proportion seems small, “for many people, Facebook is their main source of information,” said Justin Toson, a professor at Michigan State University who studies social media.
Facebook is an American Internet company. Australia is an ally of the United States. Speaking about the dispute, State Department spokesman ned price said on the 19th that the US side usually supports us enterprises, but will not comment on the matter publicly.
The Canadian government announced on the 18th that it would draft a similar bill to require Facebook to pay Canadian media.
Google, another US Internet giant, previously threatened to withdraw from the Australian market. Now it has changed its stance and reached an agreement with News Corp. and other media companies to pay for the news broadcast by the latter.
Australian Treasury minister Friedenberg previously said that Google accounted for 53% of Australia’s total Internet advertising revenue, and Facebook accounted for 23%. (Guo Qian)