back to article Australia facepalms as Facebook blocks bookstores, sport, health services instead of just news

Facebook is being flayed in Australia after its ban on sharing of links to news publications caught plenty of websites that have nothing to do with news. The Social Network™ announced its ban with a blog post and the sudden erasure of all posts on certain Facebook pages. Links to news outlets big and small (including The …

  1. sreynolds

    Lesson learned we can now move on.

    So now the publishers have learned that lose control when they go to facebook and will never succumb to this mistake again. Not likely, and it doesn't look like facebook likes opening its check book.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Lesson learned we can now move on.

      I think the main lesson learned is that Facebook is unnecessary to sustain life. The more people learn that, the better for the species (and most other species too, I suspect).

  2. LazLong

    Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

    Screw Australia's clumsy attempt to suck money from Facebook by charging for linking. Don't get me wrong. I HATE Facebook, and don't use it, nor have I ever, but charging for linking is asinine. So are poorly, overbroadly-worded laws.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

      Agreed: charging for linking is wrong, but charging for reuse of content is right.

      People seem to accept that reuse of music needs to be paid for, so why not reuse of news ? It should be OK to reuse snippets of news as you should be able to have small amounts of music or where it is incidental/background.

      1. PhoenixKebab

        Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

        But some content is needed to make the link meaningful. But how much?

        None at all and just show the raw URLs to the users.

        Just the TITLE tag. Maybe scrape the headline from the article. That will just encourage more clickbait from the news sites.

        First paragraph. Is that all people need to know about the article so no clicks (as was the previous situation), encouraging news sites just hide all the details until the second paragraph?

        I can't stand Facebook, but they have been told that if they do X they need to pay. So they decided not to do X, and a lot of unexpected things have been caught in that due to the poor definition in the law. I expect attempts will be made to force them to carry certain "news" AND pay for it.

        If any country wants to declare Facebook an essential service (and I really hope not), that country should pay for it.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

          So they decided not to do X, and a lot of unexpected things have been caught in that due to the poor definition in the law.

          *is* it the poor definition of the law though, or have FB in fact decided to interpret it overly broadly to sow as much disruption as possible in the hope it'd cause a revolt against law makers and get the status quo restored?

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            I am totally convinced that that is exactly what is happening.

          2. Bibbit

            Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

            Yup. That’s exactly what they are doing.

          3. aks

            Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

            Facebook (which I don't use) have simply said that they can't guarantee to filter out news links from any other links and don't want to risk being sued for a link that is later judged to be news.

            They will *not* pay for the privilege. If Australia succeeds in getting money from them then other countries will follow. Google have gone a different way by striking a deal with Rupert Murdoch.

            Previous attempts to force money from Google exploded in their faces. Not linking meant that users did not follow the links and the website in question became invisible and therefore lost money. The website then asked Google to link to them with a simple headline and abstract.

          4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

            The law is astoundingly stupid. Mike Masnick has analyzed it at length on TechDirt. It's not just charging for linking (and, yes, it's charging for linking, not simply for reprinting content); it's mandatory linking to favored sites if you link to any "news" at all, it's a charging structure which has suffered regulatory capture from the get-go, and it's a patent giveaway to Murdoch.

            I'm certainly not a fan of Facebook, but they made the right decision here. Google blinked, and that will prove bad for them and bad for the web as a whole. Not extremely bad, probably; just one of the many tiresome features of stupid misfortune that people who are neither cretinous nor mendacious have to put up with every day.

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

        People seem to accept that reuse of music needs to be paid for, so why not reuse of news ?

        But I do reuse news, I wrap fish in it. And no, I am not going to pay extra for that.

        It should be OK to reuse snippets of news

        Snippets are too small to wrap fish in.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

          Both fish and chips I hope. They did taste better when fish & chip shops used newspaper. Or was it that they fried them in fat in those days?

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

            I was referring to raw fish, bought and sold in the market, but you have an excellent point regarding fish and chips, though it is not as common here in the Netherlands.

          2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Happy

            Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

            In my opinion it’s all about the vinegar.

            Pouring vinegar onto chips doesn’t seem to work properly. There’s either too little, or too much and they go soggy. But when they’re wrapped in newspaper, the excess is absorbed, but still there to smell, so it’s all yummy. This doesn’t work when I fry them at home, I suspect because kitchen roll is too absorbent. So newsprint seems to hit the sweet spot. Also, you can fold it into a proper cone, and then eat the chips hot, as you leave the shop. Double yum!

            Off topic? Moi? Mumble... mumble... mumble... Facebook getting battered...

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

              Facebook getting battered...

              Next: Facebook getting deep fried ;)

              1. Rob Daglish

                Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

                The entire Scottish people going “deep fried Facebook?

                Washed down with buckfast?”

            2. Yes Me Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

              YesMe's law [with thanks to Mike Godwin]: All on-line discussions that don't follow Godwin's law end up as discussions about fish and chips.

        2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

          > Snippets are too small to wrap fish in.

          But they are great for phishing.

      3. Nick Stallman

        Re: Screw Australia's clumsy attempt....

        Is it really Facebook re-using content, when the news organisations happily and freely post it themselves?

        They are asking for a platform to share their news on, then are demanding cash for them doing it.

        And now they are moaning about the platform they don't pay for being taken away from them.

  3. tkioz

    Look...

    Look Zucker it's a shit law, we all knew it was a shit law, and anyone with common sense was against it, but then you had to go and pull this stunt. It's not like Facebook is a well liked company or anything and now they pull this crap and every scrap of good will they might have had because ya know NewsCorp and a shit law just vanished because they had to act like brats and then double down on acting like brats with their 'apology' for yanking health services and emergency services pages.

    Serious own goal here.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Look...

      AIUI - and I'm no Facebook fan either - the own goal is the govts. in failing to work out how to specify what it means by a news site. It's not an unusual situation - user fails to define requirements clearly.

      Also not an unusual situation - govt. wants X and passes legislation that they think will result in that. The targets of that legislation who do not want X react in entirely predictable ways to avoid X and all that's left is the downside.

    2. Magani
      Mushroom

      Re: Look...

      Look Zucker it's a shit law, we all knew it was a shit law, and anyone with common sense was against it, but then you had to go and pull this stunt.

      The one thing The Zuck didn't do was seemingly TALK to the Oz Gummint and try to come to some common agreement. You know, like G**gle did. But instead he decided to bring a nuke to a knife fight.

      FAIL.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Look...

        But instead he decided to bring a nuke to a knife fight.

        Hey! That's my line!

      2. hoopsa

        Re: Look...

        It’s not true to say that they didn’t talk to the Australian government about it; talks have been going on for over a year but the government’s hell-bent on its plan and well, here we are.

    3. genghis_uk Silver badge

      Re: Look...

      If I post a link to a news story why should Facebook pay for it?

      Google are scraping news sites and aggregating - that is different. Facebook is hosting users links and are expected to pay the news corps.

      The other, lesser reported part is that the news corps want Facebook and google to warn them, in advance, of any algorithm change that may affect links to them. There is an industry based on SEO but Murdock wants to bypass that and get the secret recipe handed to him.

      I can't believe I am actually defending Facebook but why the hell should they host links that will screw them financially? If the Aus government are so clueless that they write an overly broad definition why wouldn't Facebook produce a catch-all ban if it might mean they have to pay?

      Everyone is up in arms about this or that agency/charity/knitting circle etc. who have been caught - including emergency services but why are they reliant on Facebook? If they have no other point of presence, have they not been relying on a free service from Facebook? If they have, then what is the problem?

      1. tkioz

        Re: Look...

        Because Facebook spent a decade trying to position themselves as a one-stop source for services just like Twitter did. The services that got hit *do* have websites, but people don't visit them daily, people (for some reason) do browse Facebook daily and so those services rely on their advisories showing up in people's feeds to get out there.

        This is to Facebook's benefit. It's more content for them, it legitimises them in the view of the public. Nuking these things was pure stupidity and turned the 'average' (i.e stupid) punter against them.

        As I said in my original post, the law is shit, complete dog shit, but Facebook didn't do itself any favours with their behaviour.

        1. genghis_uk Silver badge

          Re: Look...

          So because Facebook is popular and people are lazy, the company has to cough up for news that they did not post? Sounds a bit harsh doesn't it?

          Facebook is only a monopoly because people insist on using it so no viable competitor has gained any traction. Maybe by driving them elsewhere and reminding them that FB is not the internet it could do some good.

      2. Yes Me Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Look...

        "why the hell should they host links that will screw them financially?"

        They have a de facto monopoly, so they need to be screwed. Monopolies screw the whole economy. This Oz law is pretty stupid - wrong solution to the right problem - but there is a problem with these monopolies and a free market will not fix it.

    4. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: Look...

      The chances are Facebook used some url classification engine to figure out what “news” are. Anyone who came across one would know that they return multiple classes for sites and often sites are classified as “news” which are not news sites.

  4. Blackjack Silver badge

    What, no Google?

    [Meanwhile, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and the rest still carry news links,]

    Funny how you are defining Google as "the rest" when it has a News search function and is the most used Web Search service in the World

    I will said it before and I will say it again, social media is not made to be a reliable news source, get your news from actual news websites or Apps.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: What, no Google?

      Exactly, never use a third party when it's not necessary.

      And don't wait on the news coming to you, go and get it yourself. Then you get to choose what was written rather than an algorithm insisting that this or that is what you need to read..

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: What, no Google?

        Google have complied with the law and are now paying for Oz news snippets which is why you are not hearing about them.

        1. genghis_uk Silver badge

          Re: What, no Google?

          Google have come to an agreement to pay for news as they are starting a new News service.

          https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-media-google-idUSKBN2A50FB

          That is not quite the same.

    2. chrisw67

      Re: What, no Google?

      That would be the same Google that cut a deal with News Corp and a couple of other players to carry some of their content for a fee. (In the case of the News Corp outlets, calling it premium journalism is close to laughable).

      https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/feb/17/news-corp-agrees-deal-with-google-over-payments-for-journalism

      The law is, IMHO, way too broad (covering linking, any sort of indexing or ranking of links) and controlled by the declarations of one elected rep with skin in the game.

    3. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: What, no Google?

      Considering Facebook owns Instagram how come it gets to still carry news without paying for the links when Facebook proper cannot?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. LycMe

    Screaming from the over-entitled masses

    Just caused a lot of over-entitled people and organisations to scream, was quite funny to watch from on the ground.

    I'm sorry, you're not paying for anything and taking full use of the Facebook facilities to reach the masses.

    It's a private company, their platform, and they can do what they want.

    Now the Gov. + Murdoch want to charge for the privilege of linking to Murdoch press news sites (which are often met by pay walls anyway), we can see exactly the unintentional consequences of that action.

    Facebook aren't being bullies, that's just the media trying to make click-bait and say "woa is me" - the bullies are Morrison & Murdoch but the media is trying to paint Facebook as the bad guys.

    Employ some critical thinking folks!

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

      lychee (sic) too easy. Cutting of womens support and rural fire brigades groups ? That's commercial news to be cut ? Yep, all the signs of something thats not critical thinking.

      BTW, I dont use any tripe dispensers

      1. _andrew
        Facepalm

        Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

        Doesn't have to be commercial news. The govt, Murdoch and Nine wrote the definition of "news" in the law so broad that they didn't think that FB or G would be able to escape it. It's basically "anything that Australians might find interesting". Doesn't even need to be in the public interest. Sport. Everything. Read the leg: it's on the web. FB's only doing what it can to follow the "else" clause, and not fit the definition of a company that can be arbitrarily blagged.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

          Indeed, I'm no fan of FB (don't use it), but the law is ludicrously broad - & their attempts to comply are revealing that extremely well

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

      we can see exactly the unintentional consequences of that action.

      Maybe unintentional, but very easy to predict with a bit of common sense, something Morrison & Murdoch seem to be lacking.

      .

      .

      .

      .

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

      1. PhilBuk

        Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

        Not Lazurus Long, Mark Twain beat Robert Heinlein to that by a mile.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

          Nice to know, but I don't really think Samuel L. Clemens was the first either.

    3. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

      Now the Gov. + Murdoch want to charge for the privilege of linking to Murdoch press news sites (which are often met by pay walls anyway),

      If the site has a paywall, then I can actually fully understand that paper's point.

      They've invested time and resources into researching stories (quality being whatever it is) and have a paywall so that if you want to read their "compelling" content you need to subscribe or make a micro-payment/whatever.

      Except, along come Facebook who serve up a link to your story, along with a snippet giving enough of a jist that users won't generally bother following the link (and if they do, almost certainly won't cross the paywall).

      In that position, I'd tell them to do one too.

      I don't agree with paywalls, but if you've put one up, you're hardly likely to say "thank you sir" when a service comes along and deprives you of that revenue using your own content to do so, are you?

      1. ttlanhil

        Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

        If the site has a paywall and you have to pay to read the part you want to read...

        They should only be showing the same teaser you see to FB (and Google, etc)

        If they're letting bots read the whole article and then complaining the bots have the information, they're doing something wrong (unless FB/other have paid for access but not permission to resell - that would be very different, but I doubt that happens).

        If what FB knows is enough that you decide not to click through, then you definitely wouldn't have paid to get past the paywall anyway

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

          > If what FB knows is enough that you decide not to click through, then you definitely wouldn't have paid to get past the paywall anyway

          Whilst a logical answer, that's not necessarily true.

          Sure, you might not have paid to click through to *that* article, but you may have then gone-off onto another story on a "related items" module or similar (latest items, stories like this etc etc).

          The thing with aggregators like Facebook is that they completely fuck up "normal" visitor flows from your landing pages.

          1. julian.smith
            Facepalm

            Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

            "The thing with aggregators like Facebook is that they completely fuck up "normal" visitor flows from your landing pages."

            Indications (see the Neiman Journalism Lab at Harvard) are that 20% of visitors to the Australian branch of Murdoch's Empire of Filth arrive via Facebook, who don't charge anything to deliver them.

            Thus 20% of the visitors have vanished. Not good news for a business model that sells "eyeballs" eg News Corp.

            Rupert's attempted shakedown of Facebook is not going well - let's see who blinks first, time is not on Murdoch's side.

            [Scotty from Hillsong is managing this, fresh from his AUD30billion per year humiliation by China - what could possibly go wrong?]

            BTW Google's business model is totally different to Facebook's.

            Goggle doesn't keep you on their website, they get paid handsomely by the receiver's targeted advertisers.

            Facebook attempts to keep you on their website where their advertisers pay Facebook handsomely.

            On balance I hate Murdoch more than Facebook but I'm happy to see a death match.

      2. needmorehare
        Happy

        If the site has a paywall... then what's the problem?

        Hard paywalls include the same snippet which is scraped by Google and other search engines to get their content indexed. If they would rather not have this be the case, they can very easily change that by not making the content available to anybody who hasn't paid. Facebook does plenty of wrong things but this move is the right one. If news sites don't want their content published for free then they shouldn't publish it for free. By not blocking scraping through both robots.txt and noindex directives, they are implicitly allowing their content to be scraped for any purpose.

        If Big Tech started aggregating news from trusted/recognised subject matter experts (as opposed to journalists) and presented this as AI-driven news, a lot of news services would die off very quickly. The truth is that journalism is in a death spiral right now and no amount of governmental intervention will change that. We don't live in such a closed off world any more, information gets out about everything quite quickly.

    4. hottuberrol

      Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

      "Faccebook arent bullies.....the bullies are Morrison and Murdoch..."

      Oh, you were so , so close.

      This is two billionaires having a pissing match.

      In the blue corner, old school Murdoch, who influences policy and plays kingmaker through his various media channels.

      In the red corner, digital challenger Zuck, who peddles influence through capturing and analysing data on us, the users.

      I despise both of them, and no matter whose liptstick is used, none of this is about what's good for Australia or its people.

      Morrison is the monkey to Murdoch's organ grinder.

      1. Diogenes

        Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

        Why the emphasis on Murdoch? Australia's "quality"(Age & SMH) press owned by Nine Media are bleeding even more and enthusiastically support the legislation.

        1. Jaxx
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

          Few people overseas seem to know that the Australian press is more than Murdocks murky corner, and he is a Yank these days anyway.

          The Facebook apologists seem to imply that it is a public service working for the good of all, it is really a money grubbing corporation trying to extract every last dollar out of its product. It works like a Las Vegas casino, they don't want you to leave for any reason, put up a link to a particular story, so you can just go to that and return to Facebook not poke around in the news providers site, you may click on their ads not Facebooks.

          Facebook wants to be the whole internet no reason to ever leave.

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Screaming from the over-entitled masses

      Naw. Sod Facebook.

  6. simonlb
    Facepalm

    Facebook 'offers superior micro-targeting services'

    WTAF? From my experience there is absolutely no relevance between anything I have ever shown an interest in or liked on Faceache and any of the adverts in either the side panel or rammed into my timeline. Completely random and irrelevant ads are just shoved in the relevant placeholders with the label 'sponsored' tagged to them. The ones shoved in my timeline always get reported as either 'Violence' or 'Sexually inappropriate' which some days can be time consuming but it does make me feel better.

  7. coconuthead

    effect on small Pacific countries

    The ban has badly affected some small island nations:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-19/pacific-media-warns-facebook-ban-on-australian-news-serious/13167232

    TL;DR: a telco serving several of these countries offfers unmetered Facebook, which means it is *de facto* "the internet" for large numbers of people there. Austraia's national broacaster built out a tailored news service for them based on Facebook, with 100,000 users who now have no access to it.

    Some of these countries are so small they don't even have their own currency, and use ours.

    So, no, the sky didn't fall in for *us*.

    1. Stanislav Bonita
      Thumb Down

      Re: effect on small Pacific countries

      "A telco serving several of these countries offfers unmetered Facebook, which means it is *de facto* "the internet" for large numbers of people there."

      Well maybe those countries shouldn't allow something so brain-rotting to happen.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: effect on small Pacific countries

      A *NATIONAL* broadcaster doesn't have the nous or capability to have it *OWN* website?????? What is this, Craggy Island Rediffusion?

      1. coconuthead

        Re: effect on small Pacific countries

        It very much does, and IIRC it is the one of the most popular websites in Australia. Currently rubbing its little virtual hands in glee pointing out the ABC also has apps.

        The issue is, people in some of these tiny places *do not have* affordable access to that website, or any website. The internet for them is a phone on 4G pointed to Facebook. How that came about, I don't know, but presumably Facebook did the telco a deal.

        It's all in the article I linked, on the very website you complain does not exist.

        1. JohnG

          Re: effect on small Pacific countries

          "The issue is, people in some of these tiny places *do not have* affordable access to that website, or any website. The internet for them is a phone on 4G pointed to Facebook. How that came about, I don't know, but presumably Facebook did the telco a deal."

          One risk of Facebook's move is that the people in these small countries and/or their governments will have seen the risk of relying on Facebook and may look to rectify their lack of Internet or at least, of alternatives to Facebook.

    3. hottuberrol

      Re: effect on small Pacific countries

      Facebook's ubiquity as "the internet" is not just these nations - you'll find this in Africa as well. People dont use a search engine - they think the internet is facebook, it comes preloaded on their phones. Its truly dangerous. National opinion can be swayed by one information source, controlled by one 30-something megalomanic with a majority shareholding and no social skills. The sooner US anti-trust breaks up FB, the better - and every shareholder, bar the nerd, will be better off too !

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: effect on small Pacific countries

        Preinstalled and zero-metered, as OP noted. That's something to be concerned about. Worrying that Facebook might direct additional traffic to your news website is not.

        This law is idiotic rent-seeking that will do nothing to fix any actual problem.

  8. JDPower Bronze badge

    Facebook went down briefly earlier, was hoping it was a retaliatory DDOS attack, but was sadly back up within an hour or so.

  9. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Facebook haven't banned news. Facebook has chosen not to carry links to news. Producers want their product to be paid for, consumer chooses not to consume product. The news is still there, go and get it. From the producers.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Here's a news link - https://xkcd.com/1239/ _ guess they can't see this in Australia.

  10. Danny 5

    Typical

    And again we see a perfect example of what can happen when people without the proper technical knowledge make decisions beyond their capacity, there are a LOT of unexpected side effects.

    It's not that I disagree with the spirit of that law, I totally agree that if articles are completely/largely posted on facebook, the original poster of the article should be compensated, Facebook makes money off it too after all, it's just that this half baked effort is ending up doing more harm than good.

    I get Facebook's argument that posting news on facebook can help the publishers, but that's only valid if a small portion of the story is visible (clickbait anyone?). There needs to be consensus on what qualifies as a link and what qualifies as a full post that requires compensation imho.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Typical

      And again we see a perfect example of what can happen when people without the proper technical knowledge make decisions beyond their capacity, there are a LOT of unexpected side effects.

      Unexpected by whom? Unintended I can believe, but the side effects were completely predictable by anybody with the slightest smidgen of common sense (which about by definition excludes politicians).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Typical

        "Unexpected by whom?"

        By themselves, of course.

        It's such a familiar pattern that you'd think politicians would allow for it but they don't.

      2. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: Typical

        @AP. Too hard on pollies. Not enough on their swarms of parasites advisors and senior public serpents. Like most of manglement, they have a deep contempt for any type of technical expertise. As for the Murdoch alleged conspiracy, given the general contempt for _all_ media in Oz, where is the evidence for hypothesis ? Where is evidence it would make any difference ?

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Typical

      "There needs to be consensus on what qualifies as a link and what qualifies as a full post that requires compensation imho."

      I'd be surprised if there isn't such a consensus already. This is a link: https://www.theregister.co.uk/. Any snippet that goes beyond that is reproducing someone else's content. It would appear that the Australian law actually considers links (according to my definition) to be an "interaction with" the news site, whereas most normal people would reckon you were smoking something if you said that.

      The difference matters because if FB (or anyone else) can provide enough of a snippet that you don't have to leave their site, then you stay put and continue to contribute ad revenue to FB. If, however, you have to at least /visit/ the news site, firstly you trigger ad revenue for them and secondly there is a non-zero chance that you might stay there for a bit and not return to Zuckerland. (Oh noes!)

      Given that difference in behaviour, with its real financial consequences, it is absurd to consider a raw link as an interaction and the law should not do so. However, the rest of the idea is sound because it makes it hard for the likes of FB to cherry-pick news sites for free. IANAL but I suspect the Australian law could be fixed by deleting two lines of text: 52C.1.b.

      52C Interacting with content

      For the purposes of this Part, a user of a service interacts with content made available by the service if: (a) the content is reproduced on the service, or is otherwise placed on the service, and the user interacts with the content; or (b) a link to the content is provided on the service and the user interacts with the link; or (c) an extract of the content is provided on the service and the user interacts with the extract.

  11. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    So unexpected.

    www.expunct.com/business/what-joy-facebook-bans-australian-news/

    And if the law is fuzzy enough to be abused then of course facebook will take a broad interpretation when facing a hostile government.

  12. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    I see two problems

    Neither of them being what most people are shouting about. Some overlap with what other commenters here have said.

    Murdoch wants to sell access to his sites. OK, they are his so his rules apply. He hasn't understood that links bring the audience in, but he's very old and doesn't get the modern world.

    Facebook (and weren't Google threatening the same?) don't want to buy, and that's OK too. Only governments are allowed to force you to buy their services. The fact that they were so cuddy-handed about it is just them doing Facebook. "Move fast and break things" indeed.

    A genuine problem is that so many charities and small businesses are completely dependent on the ZuckerBorg. We need an open web back. How we get the mundanes to play along is a hard problem.

    Worse is that Murdoch was able to dictate the law he wanted and have Parliament rubber stamp it. That is one of the more blatant examples of the power imbalance endemic the world over. How we fix that without breaking out the torches and pitchforks is an even harder one.

    Entertainingly, The Dirty Digger has probably picked on an enemy even more powerful than himself for once. I look forward to watching his reaction when that sinks in.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: I see two problems

      The Age & SMH are not Murduch papsrs and they support the new law.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I see two problems

        OK - News International and Fairfax.

        Both have the same issue - rapidly declining newspaper sales. They believe this will save them. But they don't offer any new reason to pay for their content and can't understand why the majority of the population were happy with poorly edited summaries (ok...I may be being a little harsh on Google/FB/etc as not all of their news is poorly edited).

        The Australian government bowed to Murdochs media pressure for these changes and I look forward to News Internationals reaping the results. I don't believe there will be any rewards for either side.

  13. msobkow Bronze badge

    It is pretty hard to leash something that has a larger GDP than your nation. :P

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Facebook may have a huge paper value, but is it's "GDP" actually that large?

    2. tkioz

      Australian GDP for 2019 was 1.39 Trillion USD.

      Facebook's nebulous 'value' is somewhere around 560 billion USD.

  14. cpage

    Surely good for the world if people get news from mews websites not Facebook etc

    Isn't it entirely a good thing that people learn that Facebook isn't a substitute for the World Wide Web. Every news source has a web page, and many good ones are either entirely free for locals (like the BBC is for us) or free for use because they show advertising. Apparently quite a sizeable number of Facebook addicts in the world at large never use any other website - it is high time that this practice was stopped. If that can be done by forcing news-scraping sites to pay for their scraping, and thus many like Facebook going off in a huff, surely that's an excellent thing for the world.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Surely good for the world if people get news from mews websites not Facebook etc

      "mews websites" -- more cat videos?

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Surely good for the world if people get news from mews websites not Facebook etc

        Feline news flash!

  15. jason 7

    Facebook's future...

    ...essentially weaken and wipe out most other mainstream and independent news media so Zuckerberg has majority control when he finally decides to run for President.

    Worth $20 on.

  16. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Lessons Learned?

    News, links and payments aside, I think that a major issue here is that services which are being described as "critical" are using a commercial platform on standard consumer terms and conditions as the principal, or even only, means of getting their information out to the people who might rely on it. I can understand that the local residents association or gift shop might be OK with Facebook as their main channel, but some of the services that have been taken out by Facebook should really have their own website, shouldn't they? I realize that Facebook (and others) are an easy way to manage broacasting and interaction and it's simpler for users, but if stuff is critical then it's clear from this episode that using the likes of Facebook isn't fault tolerant.

  17. Joe Harrison

    Didn't this already happen?

    Spain passed a similar law closing down Google News

    https://www.theregister.com/2014/12/11/spanish_scraper_scrapped_google_axes_google_news/

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: Didn't this already happen?

      Spain only asked money for the Google News service, so Google shut it down. Australia asked money for Google Search results, and Google decided not to shut that down in the end.

  18. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Obnoxious companies fight it out

    I live on the other side of the world but this reminds me a bit of when Oracle sued Google about use of java. I know that the Dirty Digger has roped in a compliant government to act as his proxy here rather than with Ellison going to court directly but ...

    Two really evil companies fighting it out. The question you have to ask is who should win?

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Obnoxious companies fight it out

      The question you have to ask is who should win?

      I don't really care, as long as it is a Pyrrhic victory.

  19. Sanctimonious Prick
    Mushroom

    This Is What Happened...

    Sir Tim Berners Lee to Mark Zuckerberg: What are we to do about these upside down fuckers?

    Mark Zuckerberg to Sir Tim Berners Lee: Time to be EVIL!

    STBL2MZ: But... but, nobody thinks Google is EVIL, do they?

    MZ2STBL: No. No they don't. Since Cambridge Analytica, I'm the EVIL one.

    STBL2MZ: Well let's take that line then...?

    MZ2STBL: Yes. You pay those upside down schmucks (we'll go halvies), And I'll give 'em the finger :)

    STBL2MZ: Done!

    MZ2STBL: Done!

  20. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Trollface

    At least ...

    ... fake news will still be free.

  21. Kaki

    Emergency services on facebook

    I really hope that this teaches people to not rely on the goodwill of corporations that are there for profit only, and people are their product.

  22. Jim Whitaker

    Advertisements?

    I'm sorry but are you suggesting that there are people who use FB without an adblocker? Sheesh!

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