back to article Facebook bans sharing of news in Australia – starting now – rather than submit to pay-for-news-plan

Facebook has barred the sharing of news articles in Australia, effectively immediately, because it thinks Australia’s pay-for-news plan is unworkable. That plan, embodied in the News Media Bargaining Code, passed the lower house of Australia’s parliament yesterday. Passage through the Senate and into law is all-but-assured. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting take on this

    As a UK and Australian citizen, I welcome this.

    The sooner it comes to the UK the better.

    The benefit will be to weed out misinformation dressed as news, and for those that get their news from Facebook, this is a great improvement.

    If you get your news from facebook, you are probably a Trump supporter / antivaxxer anyway, and being forced to hunt a bit more for news produced by an organisation that is legally responsible for the garbage they spew is at least a start.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Interesting take on this

      >The benefit will be to weed out misinformation dressed as news, and for those that get their news from Facebook, this is a great improvement.

      Nope, this means they can't show news snippets from the trusted Murdoch proper newspapers but can only show free bot generated fake-news content.

      1. mark l 2 Silver badge

        Re: Interesting take on this

        I am not sure I would personally use the phrase 'trusted Murdoch proper newspapers' as remember this is the same person who owned the News of the World and still runs Fox news.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Interesting take on this

          They could just ban all Australian links. Easier to code and no one would notice outside of Australia.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting take on this

      "The benefit will be to weed out misinformation dressed as news,"

      I'm not sure that it will do that. What it will do is make it impossible to link to a reputable news site to counter the misinformation.

      I don't approve of Facebook or Zuckerberg much, but I can see their point here to be honest. The ability to link freely is what makes the web the web, and making companies pay to host for links seems wrong to me.

      I don't even understand the complaint to be quite honest. If I do a Google search for 'news' then click the 'News' tab, I get a two sentences from the article and a thumbnail picture. If I want to read the rest of the article, I have to click through to the originating website.

      Is the argument that if I was on the originating website to start with, they'd be getting ad revenue? Whereas if I can see from the first two sentences that the article is not interesting I don't go to the site at all so no ad revenue for them?

      1. Brad16800

        Re: Interesting take on this

        I'm in the same boat on this. Never quite understood why news sites didn't want what is essentially free links to their site. Also being Facebook it's kind of word of mouth so i'd expect people would be more likely to click through to read on the news site (and generate that ad revenue).

        Seems backwards to ask to be paid for a free ad to your site.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Interesting take on this

          Haven't used facebook in years, but surely the issue was it's not just a link: weren't they quoting a substantial part of the article too? Facebook don't want you to jump away from their site. Pulling the target content of a link into the same page makes a huge amount of sense for them.

        2. 96percentchimp

          Re: Interesting take on this

          The news organisations' argument is that Google & Facebook place advertising around your search, so they make money from it that doesn't go to the news publishers. Google also controls the market for on-page advertising (arguably because the publishers allowed it because they lacked foresight a decade ago, but that's another story) so they get paid again when readers follow the link. FB gets is where people will stay to comment on a story, so they build community (and make money) off the publishers' content.

          1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

            Re: Interesting take on this

            The news organisations' argument is that Google & Facebook place advertising around your search, so they make money from it that doesn't go to the news publishers.

            (I know this is their argument, not yours...) No. G&FB make money from the search or from the social mix. The publishers will make money if/when the punter chooses to click to read the content. So... make your articles interesting ('twas ever thus) and make your site interesting and useful.

            Google also controls the market for on-page advertising

            Not sure how that is relevant. There are other advertising suppliers if they don't want to pay Google.

            FB gets is where people will stay to comment on a story, so they build community (and make money) off the publishers' content.

            News doesn't build the community - Facebook (whom I hate, by the way) work really hard to build that community. And they are bringing it to the publishers.

            It is time publishers rebuilt and invested heavily in their own comments sections to build their own community (just like, in the old days, they worked hard to create a consistent voice and viewpoint to build their community of regular readers who would buy the paper every day instead of just when they saw an interesting headline on a street corner sign).

            1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

              Re: Interesting take on this

              The publishers will make money if/when the punter chooses to click to read the content. So... make your articles interesting ('twas ever thus) and make your site interesting and useful.

              It's not quite that simple though.

              Just pulling a headline and snippet off the BBC quickly:

              House Explosion leaves woman dead and two injured

              Another woman and a child are taken to hospital after the blast which caused the house to collapse in Manchester.

              Now, if the headline doesn't interest you, then $news have lost nothing anyway. But the snippet has given enough information that a good portion of people will have got the information and moved on.

              The article itself goes on to describe more of the circumstances, but the nature of news articles is that the first sentence/para tends to give you the synopsis. That first para comes as a result of the work that yielded all the other information.

              The News' sites argument is that Facebook's habit of showing a synopsis costs them traffic/ad impressions, not just that Facebook are making money off of doing so.

              If you remember, there was a similar argument about Google News in Spain, where Google said "fuck you" and shut down Google News entirely in Spain.

              There was a report a little while later which said that Spanish news publishers were doing much better as a result. You need a certain pinch of salt, because guess which industry commissioned it.

              On the other hand, Google have gone another way with a similar dispute in France and said that they're not going to shut down Google News, they'll just kick all the French publishers out of it. That'd suggest there probably is some truth to the Spanish story.

              None of it's easy, or black and white. Personally, I think there's some weight though to the argument that multinationals should probably be contributing toward the cost of generating good local content. Otherwise we're all going to get left with really, really crap news

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Interesting take on this

                If you remember, there was a similar argument about Google News in Spain, where Google said "fuck you" and shut down Google News entirely in Spain.

                Didn't this also happen in Germany & that didn't go well for the German publishers? Maybe it depends on national characteristics - amount of information in the snippets on the publisher's side and willingness to click through by the users.

                1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                  Re: Interesting take on this

                  No, in Germany they took an approach a little closer to the one they're using in France.

                  In Germany they switched it to "opt-in", which will have left publishers not opted-in at a significant disadvantage.

                  In the Spain version (Google News closed) you're back to googling for specific news, or browsing actual news sites etc: Win for publishers.

                  In the German version, you still go to Google News. Any opted in publisher has the (massive) advantage of prominence, and so will soak up clicks (still fewer than without Google News at all) because users aren't going to go browsing news sites if even a few have opted into Google News. So as a publisher, you end up with a net loss.

                  What they tried to do in France was a variation of the German approach. They weren't allowed to opt-in, so said they'd instead run GN without any french publishers in. As a publisher, you'd get a similar issue: Google news is ostensibly available, you just wouldn't see any local publications (and are unlikely to go browsing for them). So the French came up with the (insane on the face of it) solution that Google had to include French publishers, but also had to pay - what they're actually saying is you can't discriminate, Google could close GN in France without penalty.

                  As a tactic, it's pretty clever of Google really. You make a fuss about it being a "link tax" (a misnoma in itself), and then you comply in a way that makes sure anyone going that route is put at a serious disadvantage rather than letting the publishers get back onto the level playing field they were (mostly) actually after.

                  1. Falmari Silver badge

                    Re: Interesting take on this

                    Nicely explained that was my view on it but I would not have been able to explain it as well and as clearly as you have.

        3. Alumoi Silver badge

          Re: Interesting take on this

          Free links? Hmm, let's try this FB/Google link:

          Headline: Houstor, Texas Horrible Car Crash, 20 Killed.

          Picture: destroyed cars, parts of bodies, blood, etc.

          Why would I read the rest of the article when the important parts are already there? So no click for the news site (and no ad revenue) but an eyeball (plus some ad revenue) for FB/Google.

          1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

            Re: Interesting take on this

            If I live there, or it s a road I use regularly, I might read the article to find the newspapers' analysis of what happened, why, the reaction of the local authorities to improve the junction, information about the status of survivors, heartwarming story of baby rescued from wreckage, etc etc.

            Sure, if I am not that interested I will move on.

            Make your journalism interesting and un-put-downable and/or build a community of readers around your brand. Don't try to get paid on the cheap from the people delivering traffic to you.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Never quite understood why news sites didn't want what is essentially free links to their site.

          I think it's because people read less and less. Ever noticed how some... well, more and more online publishers mark their story? 3 minutes time... 10 minutes time, long read... too long to read (aka 2lg2rd).

          My gut feeling is that people have stopped actually reading past the original title plus a few words: CARNAGE (in Burma), BARE BUTTOCKS EXPOSED (in UK), etc. They're used to twitter, they're used to headlines, why would they click on the link to read a F... 2-minute story, OMG, so much wasted time?! Meanwhile, finger (or thumb) twitch and sweep takes you down to the next "story". All on facebook.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Never quite understood why news sites didn't want what is essentially free links to their site.

            it is TLDR, not 2lg2rd ...

            See, 33% less time to get the same non information

    3. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Interesting take on this

      On the one hand, anything that makes FB less attractive can only be a good thing.

      On the other hand, Australian politicians' inability to understand the difference between a link and a copy of a web page is very disturbing. I'm sure they understand the difference between a citation and a photocopy of a paper document.

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Re: Interesting take on this

        Yes, @Yes, I too hate Fb and G. However, I also hate Murdoch so it about evens out :-)

        It is the principle here: government should not be forcing consumers to pay twice: once via Google and again on the target site.

        Note that either or both of those payments may not be in cash - they may be in time, incovenience of ads, increased product prices to pay for ads, privacy, etc but whatever form the payment takes it is coming from US - G/Fb are not paying this from their own pockets!

  2. Dave 15 Silver badge

    The Chinese and Koreans would be proud

    Censorship. Dangerous when gvmt and it's media buddies control the news, very dangerous

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Chinese and Koreans would be proud

      Welcome to the UK (including Scotland).

    2. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: The Chinese and Koreans would be proud

      How is this censorship? Have I missed something? The government isn’t preventing the news companies from writing anything - it’s just saying that Facebook can’t get away with taking, and publishing, their stories for free. Surely this would be better filed under ‘stopping Facebook from getting away with Piracy’?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Chinese and Koreans would be proud

        It's not direct censorship - it's indirect and that's what gives the government plausible deniability.

        Denying an indexer from displaying information, just because it doesn't obey local laws, is akin to Google being denied in China or Russia Today in the UK.

        The end result is only "approved" news gets published. Which incidentally is why all the headlines today from media organisations across the planet are anti-FB, rather than unbiased reporting of the facts.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Chinese and Koreans would be proud

      "Dangerous when gvmt and it's media buddies control the news"

      Also dangerous when the media control their govt. buddies.

  3. Barrie Shepherd

    Well done Facebook

    I don't use Facebook (much) and certainly not for news feeds so I applaud Facebook for standing up to the Australian Government and the ACCC.

    Any law that is specifically directed to only two entities (Facebook and Google) and does not apply to those entities business or social competitors (notably Bing) is a terrible abuse of Law-making power. To add to that a definition of news so wide that any snippet of information can be classed as news information of interest to Australians is sheer abuse of power and process.

    This is the definition of 'news' in the offending Australian Act ;

    "news source means any of the following, if it produces, and publishes online, news content:

    a newspaper masthead;

    a magazine;

    a television program or channel;

    a radio program or channel;

    a website or part of a website;

    a program of audio or video content designed to be distributed over the internet.

    core news content means content that reports, investigates or explains

    issues or events that are relevant in engaging Australians in public debate and in informing democratic decision-making; or

    current issues or events of public significance for Australians at a local, regional or national level"

    So even a personal website is caught up in the mess.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: even a personal website is caught up in the mess.

      even Facebook... from the article "Facebook's own Facebook page was blocked by Facebook"

      Perfect score?

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Well done Facebook

      What I found more concerning was this

      During a global pandemic, Australians can't access state health departments on Facebook.

      I can see that they posted there (on Facebook) for reasons of convenience but it shouldn't be an alien concept to them that they were always playing with someone else's toys in a sandpit/cesspit they didn't own or control. Not really a great way of disseminating vital information. Also a bit of a strawman given health departments all have their own official sites.

      I'm no fan of Facebook and think anyone who gets their information from their gets what they deserve. You always pay a price for convenience.

      1. love not war

        Re: Well done Facebook

        The government is not posting health messages on Facebook for the government's convenience, but because (some/many) people use Facebook and the government wants as many people as possible to see the health messaging.

        If Facebook persists, they will definitely receive some hostile regulation.

        What do you think would happen if a cellphone provider refused to connect emergency calls, or refused to carry emergency broadcasts?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well done Facebook

          FB is not a government utility service.

          Yet the government thinks FB owes them something.

  4. The Aussie Paradox
    Big Brother

    Interesting

    FBs bullying hasn’t stopped there. Blocking legit weather and Health department run sites. I noticed they were not game enough to block the AFP and Queensland Police.

    This should be fun to watch. Where is the popcorn?

    1. HatHatHatHatHat

      Re: Interesting

      They will randomly block pages (with script minus Police, lol) until public gets angry and the pollies will budge.

      1. DownUndaRob

        Re: Interesting

        I dont think the Australian masses will react that way, this may be the downfall of this plot.

        Australians will essentially tell FB where to get off.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Interesting

          You mean Australians only want to hear Murdoch's views?

          Well, apparently the public gets the politictians they deserve, so you could well be right.

          :/

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

      Why, why people look for such information on Facebook??? It's too hard to go the the health department web site? Why emergency communication should rely on a commercial data-hoarding ad-slinging company??

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

        Yet they are incapable of blocking neo-nazis, paedophiles, scam adverts, bullies, racists, anti-vaxers and massive amounts of bot propaganda.

        Australian government missing the point. It's not the news scraping is the issue, they are indeed doing more than links. It's the cesspit existing and exploiting the users.

        1. phogan99

          Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

          Two different problems. It's far easier to block links to news sites than it is to block random [insert social ill] post.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

        It’s not always straightforward.

        Some parts of the world lack the expertise or reliable cross border system stack to publish said data to their own platforms on their own sites as effectively as can be done with Facebook. Also how many people will know the emergency response site detail or check for updates?

        Most people have a Facebook account and can be reached on that by friends and loved ones.

        Case in point is the ongoing volcano alert in the small island state of st Vincent, as much as I hate Facebook I have to go there to see national emergency updates on the volcano. Other sources are available but that is the main site for updated info.

        https://facebook.com/nemosvg/

        When La Soufrière sadly finally blows Facebook will likely be the best place to put updates and instructions including media where THE most people can see it. Anyone with a smart (is that definition still needed now?) phone can publish to Facebook provided they have a data connection.

        Sadly for many places Facebook IS critical infrastructure.

        1. awavey

          Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

          No most people dont have Facebook accounts, even optimistic estimates in tech savvy places like the UK have only 44percent reach and that doesnt account for all the ghost/fake/cat accounts that exist. Somewhere like Australia certainly isnt Facebook or Google world, why the politicians, who clearly dont understand how the internet works,should want Facebook & Google to fund news organisations is down to the reader to work out themselves

      3. Huw D

        Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

        Because people are lazy.

        Someone I know posted "Does anyone know if $Shop is open today and what the opening hours are?". He got a response 2 hours later, which contained links to the shop's Facebook page and their website, from the shop itself. His response? "Ok, Ta."

        That's the level of lunacy.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

        i have this feeling that you get it wrong, because you (like me) are not submerged and, metaphorically "absorbed in", rather than "absorbed with", FULLY, in the (Social Media) bubble while 90 - 99% of people are probably ALREADY INSIDE, i.e. they get most, if not almost ALL of

        - social interaction

        - shopping

        - entertainment, other than shopping

        - banking

        - free time

        - information

        via facebook.

        The only areas which do not "require" this loving FB embrace are, let me think...

        - going to the bog and / or sex-related exercise (clever people working on it though!)

        - work (gotta move them refrigerators...)

        And yes, out of the bubble you see it's easy to step out. But once inside.. have you ever tried to step out of the Universe?! IMPOSSIBLE! Though we heard some fancy theories of multiverse, and such.

        Of course, it's amplification, but technically, more than less correct. I'm afraid.

      5. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

        > Why, why people look for such information on Facebook?

        Don't forget these are the same people that think the IE/Firefox shortcut is "the interwebs"

        I see people google sites instead of using a bookmark.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: "can't access state health departments on Facebook"

          "I see people google sites instead of using a bookmark."

          Goooooooogle's cunning "SEO" emphasis on constant change to sites to maintain ranking (actually increasingly a myth as paying them make the biggest difference) makes bookmarks too transient for comfort. They commonly last a couple of months before going dead.

          That way, you're encouraged to "Gooooooooogle it", with the side effect of having no reliable record of what you've seen before or where it is. Consequently both it and the (memorable) farcebook portal become convenient gateways to the entire web. Good for them both as they get paid for the adverts every time.

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Interesting

      Does not Queensland belong to the Queen, a UK citizen?

      Why would you block her private police force to post on FB?

  5. BonezOz
    FAIL

    Couldn't even share this article

    What does it say when FB blocks ALL news from being posted? I see some here who praise FBs move, but do you realise that even tech news sites like The Reg are being blocked? I tried to share this article on FB and was told "Something went wrong, and we're trying to fix it." BS They've blocked those of us Down Under from sharing any and all news.

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: Couldn't even share this article

      "They've blocked those of us Down Under from sharing any and all news."

      Because the ACCC/Government have a very broad definition of what is "News" - It's not FB's fault they are trying to comply with what is a very badly written definition of "news" and also what is a "news source".

    2. Sampler

      Re: Couldn't even share this article

      You can't share this news article, however, if you tweet it and then share the tweet, that works...

      1. RandomOneTwo

        Re: Couldn't even share this article

        It all depends on how much effort FB have gone to, would it be as simple as using a URL shortening service to get around this?

        If its just a parsing of the link to block origins then one would supect so, if they actually follow the link to see what it resolves to then not.

        Link to this article

        http://tinyurl.com/4lcrrkr8

        NB: Can't test myself because I'm not a FB user

        1. love not war

          Re: Couldn't even share this article

          URL shortening doesn't work. FB follows the URL to see where it resolves and blocks accordingly.

          Posting a link to a tweet works. As does posting a big old jpeg of the article.

    3. phogan99

      Re: Couldn't even share this article

      Thank the Australian government, Facebook told them what would happen and sure enough it did. They managed to turn a duopoly in to a monopoly, and that's about what I'd expect from a conservative government.

      Though we'll see how long Google wants to play, probably as long they can stay ahead this law with preemptive agreements or until they get tired of paying Murdoch for his trash.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It took a while but now it's finally happened

    A planetary mega-corp head-on collision with a democratic government of a large country. The outcome doesn't look good for the AU government.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
      1. Aquatyger

        Re: It took a while but now it's finally happened

        The Betoota Advocate. Certainly a very interesting newspaper. It seems full of advocacy and slanted words and phrases rather than actual news reporting. I guess that is reflected in the name.

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: It took a while but now it's finally happened

          It's 100% satire, but as with all the best satire has a strong grounding in the truth.

          The town of Betoota after which it's named is a ghost town in central-western Queensland.

  7. Diogenes

    What is the Fuss ?

    Facepalm is NOT the internet.

    All the warnings/sites that each-way Albo is screaming about can still be accessed - all you need to do is add the appropriate App to your phone (NSW has Fires near me) OR enter the name of the organisation into this new fangled thing called a search engine in a browser, and you will get even more information.

    1. The Aussie Paradox
      Pint

      Re: What is the Fuss ?

      enter the name of the organisation into this new fangled thing called a search engine in a browser

      Aren’t they making Google “pay for” these sites too? So they will probably follow Failbook and block them too.

      1. _andrew

        Re: What is the Fuss ?

        Google doesn't have the "friends and family sharing" business model to fall back on, that Facebook does, so they've gone the other way (it appears) and struck the necessary (they hope) deals. And they seem to be staying as a full-service search engine. Game's not over yet, so perhaps they'll change their mind, but the result looks workable to me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What is the Fuss ?

          And the matter of $3.7B.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: What is the Fuss ?

      Exactly the point - FB is complaining that people might find other ways to locate the news and thereby wander out of the little FB garden into the big wide world.

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: What is the Fuss ?

      Indeed. I'm still baffled how people seem to think Facebook is relevant to news in the first place. If you want to read the news, surely you just go to a news site? That's kind of what they're for. Waiting for someone to post a link to an article on a different site that you might just happen to stumble across just doesn't seem like a useful way of getting the news.

      On the other hand, your comment about using a search engine instead is also part of the problem - Google's efforts to manipulate the results of doing that is the other half of this furore.

    4. Chris Robinson

      Re: What is the Fuss ?

      I realise this may be a bit bleeding edge but you could try typing the website's URL into the address box and pressing Enter.

      1. illiad

        Re: What is the Fuss ?

        BUT do they **know** how to do that???

      2. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: What is the Fuss ?

        The same address box that's sending every keystroke to Google?

        Have you ever seen the unmodified homepage of any modern browser? A nice, tempting box where you just type what you want and, poof!, as by magic, the answer comes. And it even has some search suggestions, if you're not sure what are you searching for.

        Why would anybody bother their little heads with complicated things like address bar, search bar or this nightmarish thing called the internet? After all, everybody knows there's google/facebook/instagram/tweeter/insert_your_own_poison and that's that.

        The internet is a dangerous place where criminals are waiting for you to enter and then steall all your precious. That's what the news are always saying: hackers, cyber criminals, scammers!

        Naah, I'll just stick with google/fb/instagram/tweeter, thank you. They care for me and won't let mean people bother me. Oh, look, an ad for my favourite tou! I'm soo going to click it.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: What is the Fuss ?

          "The same address box that's sending every keystroke to Google?"

          You let it do that, do you? What browser are you using? That can have an effect.

          Seamonkey - can choose search engine or turn it off completely.

          Waterfox - can choose search engine but don't see a quick way to turn it off completely even when a separate search engine is set. Can be set to forget history

          Palemoon - similar to Waterfox

          Firefox - As per Waterfox & but all sorts of Pocket stuff as well

    5. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: What is the Fuss ?

      Some people won’t pick up the phone or go online to change their utility provider because reasons. Same for people that won’t go anywhere else other than Facebook.

      It’s like everyone uses google and have been told not to use things they are not familiar with so be prepared for a very long session trying to convince people to use DuckDuckGo.

      Tell enough people there are monsters outside etc etc.

  8. msobkow Bronze badge

    Zuk give up any of his ill-gotten billions "earned" by selling out PEOPLE?

    Heck no.

    He's probably trying to find a way to charge the Australian media for "advertising their stories." :(

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Winkypop Silver badge
    Windows

    Facebook is shit

    Less shit the better

  11. Adair Silver badge

    O dear, but ...

    somehow my life will continue without Facebook, and without the Murdoch 'news' defecation system. If someone wants to pay them for their excretions good luck to them.

    Hopefully those with worthwhile things to communicate will find more ethically sensible and generic ways of doing so, rather than be parasitised by such ephemeral and self-serving constructs as FB.

  12. FatGerman

    Nobody mentioned...

    ... that half the Aussie govt are good mates with Murdoch, and this deal with Google will put money in Murdoch's pockets and legally force Google to promote Murdoch's brand of "news" while simultaneously making it harder to find journalism that counters his brand if misinformation. This is one step further towards Murdoch being the Australian State News Service, and one step closer to him being that fir the western world. That's nit something anybody should want, so Facebook is doing the right thing.

    1. Steve Graham

      Re: Nobody mentioned...

      Well, the actual article mentioned exactly that. Perhaps you couldn't read it because you were trying to access it via Facebook?

  13. IGotOut Silver badge

    This us a good thing.

    One, it shows how badly the law is, even with the best intention.

    Two, it shows how much power Google and FB have, opening then up even more for a takedown.

    Win Win.

  14. Must contain letters

    Accidental news channel

    What I find surprising and slightly worrying is that FB has become in some people’s mind an essential service. I hear that non-news providers like weather, health and emergency services have been blocked, maybe by accident and maybe temporarily, and they are up in arms. Get off FB and leave that cess pit of misinformation to drown in its own mess, and get back to trusted portals.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Accidental news channel

      get back to trusted portals.

      But Facebook used to be trustworthy

      .

      .

      .

      .

      .

      (for about ten minutes when it started).

  15. The Central Scrutinizer

    I've had both attempts at posting news links blocked today, including this article. Facebook is chucking a huge tanty with the thermonuclear option as its default position. Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous, as they are the go to source during natural disasters. Hello, it's bushfire season here!

    On the other hand, Rupert calls and Scotty from Marketing says "yes boss"!

    The whole thing is sickening.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

      No, using Facebook instead of setting up your own web presence is downright dangerous.

      Why isn't ABC on abc.au instead of relying on a third party?

      1. The Central Scrutinizer

        Re: re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

        abc.net.au actually. Our national broadcaster, affectionately known as "Auntie". There is a ton of community groups that post on facebook to quickly share breaking news during bushfire/flood etc emergencies. That's why blocking sites like the ABC is dangerous.

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

          That 'ton of community groups' need to find themselves a more reliable and neutral platform for their communications.

          Why not simply establish the 'National Bushfire Network' - where anything relevant to dealing with that issue can be posted, no strings attached.

          'FB' (and similar projects) are basically money grubbing parasites, and not a particularly effective or reliable means of information dispersal because that really isn't FB's priority. Just as one wouldn't use Instagram as an effective and reliable means of curating and distributing a high quality photograph collection - that is not what Instagram is about and so it does that role quite poorly.

          As Marshall Macluhan said, 'The medium is the message'.

          1. The Central Scrutinizer

            Re: re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

            Like it or not, that's how millions of people get information quickly. I'm no fan of facebook at all. It used to be a bit of a fun way to keep in touch with people, but these days it's just a cesspit of conspiracy theory shit.

            Look forward to you setting up the National Bushfire Network. It's run on a state by state basis, so good luck.

            1. Adair Silver badge

              Re: re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

              Like most things that are worthwhile, bushfire information gathering, collating and dispersal needs the enthusiasm, determination and vision of sufficiently motivated people. If those qualities are not present then, arguably, the problem isn't sufficiently important to need a solution, however much moaning and grizzling it may generate amongst those with time on their hands.

              FB, cesspit notwithstanding, functions well enough as a casual noticeboard for local interest groups and family bickering, but as a serious means of doing business or getting information where its needed in a timely and accessible fashion - it's shit.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

                "as a serious means of doing business or getting information where its needed in a timely and accessible fashion - it's shit."

                Yet it's the best they've got currently.

                FB has just called Morrison's bluff and he has no plan B. Apart from name calling.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

          "abc.net.au actually. [...] There is a ton of community groups that post on facebook to quickly share breaking news during bushfire/flood etc emergencies."

          Doesn't sound like there's a problem then. People who need to know what the broadcaster is announcing can go to their site. Or turn on a radio or television. Those who want to see or contribute to those emergency groups can go to Facebook to do it. If those groups exist to provide information the ABC doesn't have yet, they'll work just fine. If they only exist to repeat what the ABC has announced, they're not that critical since people could just listen to the ABC.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm not really a fan of this legislation. I'd like it if somehow both sides could lose. Still, the necessity of Facebook as an emergency medium seems overblown.

      2. The Central Scrutinizer

        Re: re: Blocking the ABC is downright dangerous

        Ooooo lots of downvotes for the cheap shots. Excellent!

    2. The Central Scrutinizer

      Oh yeah bring on the downvotes with no comments. Go for it, gutless wondes!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's almost that you're motivated by "likes".

        LOL

  16. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Meh

    Big difference...

    What I find difficult to get my head round is why Facebook and Google - it's like comparing apples and oranges.

    Google I can understand wanting to levy the charges against, since they basically scrape sites and stick what they find up on their search results page. Facebook on the other had is reliant on other people posting and sharing links.

    Okay, so both have some kind of algorithm that prioritises what gets shown at the head of the page (although my FB is in a nice chronological order - thanks FB Purity!), so once a link is present in either system, it's subject to some kind of assessment. But Facebook - as far as I'm aware, correct me if I'm wrong - are not abitrarily going out and hoovering up everything they can get their mucky little paws on in the way Google is.

    So to me, this feels more like a power-play by the Aussie government - albeit a well-played move to highlight just how dangerously dominant these big tech giants are - as opposed to anything really about money...

  17. Def Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Workarounds abound...

    I just tried sharing something from abc.com.au.

    Facebook blocked it.

    So I tried passing it through tinyurl.com first.

    Facebook claimed something went wrong.

    I removed the preview.

    Facebook let me post it.

  18. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Producer demands product be paid for. Consumer chooses not to consume. Film at ten.

  19. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Pint

    MySpace!

    "Alright time to reactive my MySpace account."

    Zak Kirkup MP

    https://twitter.com/zrfk/status/1362176412036124673

    1. msobkow Bronze badge

      Re: MySpace!

      *Sure* I'm going to click on random links to the web... if you've got something to say, say it here. If not, must be spam city or worse...

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Go

      Re: MySpace!

      A MySpace retro lookalike site already exists:

      https://spacehey.com

  20. Forget It
    Happy

    Filter out the `real' news

    just leave the fake news!

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Filter out the `real' news

      That's been going on for years now.

      Haven't you noticed how real news is always behind a paywall, while fake news is always free?

      And people wonder why conspiracy theories are enjoying such a revival these days...

  21. msobkow Bronze badge

    Google has no choice but to pay. They clearly scrape site contents, though a publisher and website owner can always use robots.txt, and Google's crawlers will respect it.

    But they don't want to throw out that "free advertising" bathwater of the search engines and web crawlers out there.

    Near as I can tell, this whole mess boils down to greed on greed jealous of greed who is greedy and so on and so forth.

    Money, money, money. There is more to life than the American and corporate obsession with money...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Google has no choice but to pay."

      They have. They can ignore sites where they'd have to pay. I'm surprised they're not taking that tack.

  22. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4
    Mushroom

    Facebook is optional

    "Facebook has barred the sharing of news articles in Australia"

    Well, actually it's

    "Facebook has barred the sharing of news articles ON FACEBOOK in Australia"

    And therefore no-one should give a flying fuck. Start using real websites.

  23. phogan99

    Basically throw money at Murdoch etc with no requirements that it actually be used to fund anything resembling journalism. Sounds like they got a new slush fund from the bank of Google.

  24. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

    What if...

    What if people just use a browser shortcut to get to the news website? Effort, I suppose...

    1. ClockworkOwl
      Trollface

      DRUGS

      You have clearly been self-imbibing(?),

      and they are all addicts...

      Michael Franti, time for an update:

      "Socialmedia, the drug of the nation,

      Breeding ignorance..."

  25. Mage Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Meh

    Just delete all Zukerberg apps and your account.

    I told you it was bad. See last frame.

    No-one needs that cesspit of bullies and misinformation where the users are the product.

    Total shame on companies using it and twitter for customer support. Lazy and damaging customers.

  26. NanoMeter

    I understand how FB thinks

    The Newspapers chose themselves if they want to publish news on FB. And it will be FB who have to pay them for it if it accepts the law.

  27. Rich 2 Silver badge

    WTF???

    "On a day of flood and fire warnings in Queensland and WA, Australians can’t access the Bureau of Meteorology on Facebook."

    Why the f*** would you go via faecesbook to access Real Important Stuff (tm) like fire and flood warnings? What a screwed-up idea. If you want that info then go to the prime source; not some bloody anti-social advertising shite-slinging outfit.

    Good grief!!

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: WTF???

      Never underestimate human stupidity.

      The problem with common sense is that sense never ain't common - Lazarus Long

    2. phogan99

      Re: WTF???

      I could be wrong or confusing it but doesn't Australia have emergency broadcast capabilities to phones for wildfire etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF???

      Other people don't use the internet in the same way I do, screamed Rich2.

      I just don't understand them.

      They must all be wrong because they don't do what I do...

      Do actually think about what you write? Or are you the only person on the planet in the center of your world?

  28. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    figure out which sites Facebook forbids and which it permits

    And so begins another game of internet whack-a-mole.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook's implementation of its ban has been revealed as ham-fisted

    while I prefer malice, I suspect incompetence. Or, in other words, nobody seems to be able to control anything FULLY anymore, anywhere, as all things are so inter-connected :)

    1. William Towle
      Facepalm

      Re: Facebook's implementation of its ban has been revealed as ham-fisted

      > while I prefer malice, I suspect incompetence

      Possibly, if https://twitter.com/socialistdogmom/status/1362190342569799688?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw is anything to go by...

      // s/book/palm/ :) -->

  30. David 155

    Why dont the news sites just stop posting their articles on Facebook? You cant setup an account, post a load of content then complain you arent being paid for it.

    1. David Nash

      I thought it was the AU Gov that was saying FB had to pay, not the news orgs themselves.

      I don't really understand why they are all shouting at FB to be honest. They are doing what they are told - pay or don't show the news. They chose the latter.

  31. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    What this shows is that Google isn't quite as irreplaceable as Facebook. I think Microsoft's Brad Smith was saying Bing would be happy to take up the slack, if Google walked away from the market. And there's probably truth in that - another search engine could be found. Block Facebook and there is nobody in the wings. And, as Facebook has shown, it doesn't depend that seriously on news; whereas Google failing to return news would be a much bigger dent in the service's functionality, and perhaps an existential threat to the Chocolate Factory.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bing functionality is not comparable to Google.

      What the Australian government appears to have made happen is that Google will now fund Murdoch to further his biased so-called journalism.

      Great win for Australia. /S

  32. WolfFan Silver badge

    I don’t see what the fuss is about

    The Oz government said that FaecesBook would have to pay to show Oz news, FakeBook declines and kills Oz news _on their site_ instead. FB ain’t carrying Oz news no more, and doesn’t have to pay anything. Oz residents who want news given choice: use FakeBook, get no news, or don’t use FB, get news. Seems simple to me. Oz news sources still get zero cash from FB, are in same position as before, except not getting traffic driven to their sites by FB listings. Oz government stopped FB from listing Oz news without paying. Life goes on.

    Note that I have never had, and never will have a FaesesBook account, and am not an Oz resident and simply don’t give a flying drop bear.

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: I don’t see what the fuss is about

      "The Oz government said that FaecesBook would have to pay to show Oz news,"

      Point of clarification, the Law, as currently structured, makes it ALL News, not just Aus News sources. Facebookies in Aus must not be presented with any 'news' if FB are not to be fined (when the Law is enacted.

      So FB cannot let Facebookies, in the UK see the Sydney ABC News, nor can Facebookies in the UK send links to friends in Aus. The law is so stupidly broad that it covers everything that could be classed as 'information' - hence the blocking of Metrological sites etc.

  33. Ashto5

    It’s simple really

    When a radio broadcasts music

    It pays royalties

    FB wants to do this but for free

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It’s simple really

      Indeed. But that is a travesty and only continues due to legacy precedent.

      Radio stations advertise content producers products, yet are effectively charged for doing so. In what world is that sane?

      Content producers should establish their own platforms if they want to advertise their wares.

  34. Ashto5

    Simple concept

    Facebook want a free ride and want to get paid by advertisers

    If you play music to the public you have to pay royalties

    It is exactly the same

    USA don’t like it when other countries don’t want to just pay them money for nothing

    Honestly OZ should just block FB in return

  35. Ashto5

    FB is Too Powerful

    It needs to be stopped

    I used a site and it offered me the ability to select which cookies features etc I was willing to accept

    BUT

    It stated FB is not part of the recognised process to opt out, so basically tough shit we are sending FB all your searches and pages you look at

    Cheers for that mate

  36. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I'm with the aussies

    and tell farcebork to get lost.

    If they pay someone to write news articles and publish them, no problem

    If they pay the news sites for links to articles, no problem.

    If they think they can grab everything on the internet for free, then publish it with ads and get money for those ads, farcebork can f off.

    And their ad algorithms suck anyway.... enquire about the best place to buy a new PC, get PC ads in your feed for the next 3 months.........

    1. sreynolds

      Re: I'm with the aussies

      Perhaps we could all tell Frydy's dept that we should have the right to "repair" facebook. Not sure what the solution would be apart from blocking the DNS in the great voluntary site filter of Australia.

      I think that I will submitt to the commission that goverment not rely on broken 3rd party ad pilfering sites to communicate with its citizens

      https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/repair

  37. DS999 Silver badge

    How do they determine what "news" is?

    The example of the workaround in the article shows one, but it will push Facebook even harder toward conspiracy theories since sites offering those won't fall under the list of "official" news sites and they'll be more than happy to get the traffic from Facebook to spread their lies.

    Look out Australia, your politics are about to get even worse than those in the US where at least we only have about 1/3 of our population being spoon fed bullshit. When that goes to near 100% (whatever the percentage of Facebook users in Australia is) who knows what happens next but I'm glad I don't live there!

    1. sreynolds

      Re: How do they determine what "news" is?

      It's the thin end of the wedge. Most "news" that I remember in Australia was, at least on the commercial television networks, was 5 minutes local news, mudrders, death, major stuff, then 2 minutes from America and then if anything big happened in the world, something from OS. The rest was just promotional and straight out news releases.

      The same for the news print. Fairfax and News Corp would run reams of news that were press releases written up for them.

      At the end of the day, facebook will have to start paying if it wants to plough peoples data to sell ads.

      1. Barrie Shepherd

        Re: How do they determine what "news" is?

        "Most "news" that I remember in Australia was, at least on the commercial television networks,"...

        When I was in Sydney 7, 9 & 10 evening news was at the same time, they covered the same stories, in almost the same running order. If there was Press Conference involved there was always a cutaway during the conference to a mass of tripods with 7, 9, 10 cameras and the camera manufacturers name (mainly Sony as I recall) clearly visible.

        You got the idea that the content and running order was compiled as the ticker tape ran out of the Reuters terminal!

  38. derrr

    Seems fair enough to block it

    Company ABC writes some news

    Company ABC decides to pubish a link to it on their free Facebook account.

    Company ABC then wants money from Facebook for the published content. and lobby's the Gov't for action.

    Easy answer. Stop then posting the links/content on FB.

  39. Scott 26

    Just today an Aussie friend posted a screenshot of FB - no news feed, but quite happy to display an ad for news.com.au its about money, plain and simple

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed.

      Murdoch's money.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news - Australia wins the battle

    But loses the war.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one forces anyone to use FB

    It's a free service you can choose to accept or reject.

    Like all businesses, its primary purpose is to make money.

    It doesn't owe you or the Australian government anything.

    Just because billions of people choose to use it, doesn't make them or you, right or wrong.

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