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Facebook threatens to stop news sharing in Australia over law that would make them pay for content

Facebook has threatened to block publishers and users from sharing news in Australia over a law that would make the company pay for content.

It comes in response to Australian draft legislation that would require Facebook and Google to agree to pay news organisations for content.

“News businesses have no option but to deal with the platforms, and have had little ability to negotiate over payment for their content or other issues,” said Rod Sims, chair of Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission.

Sims said the code was designed to address that “imbalance” between news organisations and digital platforms.

But if the draft code, revealed in July, becomes law, Facebook said they would stop allowing publishers and users in Australia from sharing news.

“This is not our first choice – it is our last,” wrote Will Easton, the managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand in a statement.

“But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector,” Easton added.

Google also opposed the legislation, suggesting it would give news organisations an “unfair advantage” over “everyone else who has a website”.

“News media businesses alone would be given information that would help them artificially inflate their ranking over everyone else, even when someone else provides a better result,” Google wrote in an Open Letter to Australians.

The Australian government argues that news content brings advantages to the digital platforms and that they should be paid a fair amount in return.

In the open letter, Google also cast the draft legislation as a threat to privacy, stating that there’s no way to know if user data is protected.

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