Facebook Threatens to Block News in Australia if Regulations are Enacted

Facebook has threatened to pull all editorial content from Australian news apps if a proposed regulation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is implemented. The regulation, which is still open for public comment, would require social media sites to seek prior approval from the regulator if the content they publish infringes Australian laws.

In a statement that Facebook cited as a reason to enact the policy, Mark Zuckerberg said: “The Australian government has announced a review into the quality of news produced by publishers in Australia and how it is delivered through internet-based platforms, including Facebook.”

“While the inquiry is part of a broader global effort to ensure that news is accessible and affordable for everyone, our role is unique and important,” he continued. “While we are pleased the government is developing a number of different reviews, we think the Australian inquiry will provide valuable feedback on an important topic for us.”

In response, the ACCC told The Daily Telegraph that it was “not aware of any data on the impact of digital platforms on publishing methods.”

Facebook had initially denied it would remove content or avoid the regulator’s review, but recently announced it had reconsidered after review.

“We are now re-evaluating how to cooperate with the Australian regulator if its proposed approach is implemented,” the company said in a statement. “We believe it would significantly impair the ability of the platform to produce significant amounts of news content, and the resolution of information disputes in Australia.”

The ACCC currently has nine public hearings scheduled for this month as part of the review. The hearings will run from June 11 to 22 and conclude on June 28, 2019.

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