May 5, 2021

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‘Facebook Attacked a Sovereign Nation – We Will Not be Intimidated’ – Australian Prime Minister Responds to Facebook’s Shakedown and Threats

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‘Facebook Attacked a Sovereign Nation – We Will Not be Intimidated’ – Australian Prime Minister Responds to Facebook’s Shakedown and Threats

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government will not be intimidated by Facebook’s threats.

Google threatened to shut down operations in Australia in January after a bill moved forward that forces the internet giant to pay news publishers.

Google and Facebook believed this was unfair.

So they announced they may close down their operations Down Under.

On Thursday Facebook followed up on their threats and blocked Australians from viewing and sharing news on the platform because of proposed laws in the country to make digital giants pay for journalism.

According to CBS News Australian publishers can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences, the U.S.-based company said in a statement.

But in the process, Facebook blocked readers from access to The Bureau of Meteorology, state health departments, the Western Australian opposition leader, and charities as a result of the company’s wide-ranging ban on sharing or viewing news.

Australia’s Prime Minister said on a statement that Facebook attacked a sovereign nation:

Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing. I am in regular contact with the leaders of other nations on these issues.

These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them. They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.

We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code. Just as we weren’t intimidated when Amazon threatened to leave the country and when Australia drew other nations together to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media platforms.

I encourage Facebook to constructively work with the Australian Government, as Google recently demonstrated in good faith.