Facebook said Wednesday that it would prevent people and publishers from sharing links to news articles in Australia in response to a bill in the country requiring tech companies to pay publishers to link to articles on their platforms.
The decision came hours after Google announced it had reached an agreement to pay Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to publish its news content under a three-year global contract. This was part of a series of agreements it had made with media outlets over the past few days to ensure this news would stay on its service.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” said William Easton, executive director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, in a statement on Australian law. “We face a difficult decision: We must try to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship or stop news content for our services in Australia. It is with a heavy heart that we choose the latter. “
Facebook’s decision is an escalation of a long-term stalemate between tech companies and news publishers, who have argued for years that they are not being adequately compensated for articles and other content that generates advertising revenue for the tech companies. The tech giants have backed out, stating that they are merely channels for content and that the proposed law is untenable in Australia.
Still, Facebook has continued to invest in other areas of news, including expanding its Facebook News tab – a paid partnership program designed to display curated news articles on the mobile app – to more countries and paid partners. Last month, Facebook launched its News Tab service in the UK and revealed a number of new partnerships with major UK publishers.
Although Google has reached an agreement with news publishers, Facebook has positioned itself as a radically different relationship with them. The social network has claimed that it has largely helped the media industry and that publishers could not grow their revenues in the same way without the help of Facebook.