Why Australia couldn't access news on Facebook

Facebook blocked Australian users from news...
02 March 2021

Interview with 

Peter Cowley, Angel Investor


Facebook spelled out in Scrabble tiles


For a while now, the Australian government and tech giants Facebook and Google have been at loggerheads regarding a law which would make organisations like these pay the news outlets which produce the content that the tech giants currently run for free on their sites. This recently led to Facebook removing its services from Australia, which have now been reinstated. Katie Haylor got the view of Angel investor and tech entrepreneur Peter Cowley...

Peter - Facebook took down its newsfeeds. So it didn't allow news to be displayed on Facebook pages for consumers in Australia. Unfortunately they also took down some other things they shouldn't have done, but it was only temporary because it's now been restored, because they have now signed a deal with the content providers, i.e. the big entertainment companies such as Nine and Murdoch's empire, et cetera, to pay that. So money then is flowing from the consumer, via the distributor, Facebook or Google, back to the media content providers, the publishing companies, the big print houses, et cetera.

Katie - What's the backdrop of this dispute?

Peter - The backdrop is because of a disagreement that's rumbled on for about a decade between the content providers and the content distributors, i.e. between the Murdochs and Nine Entertainments of this world, and the people who display things on our screens, on our phones, and our laptops, et cetera, and a disagreement about the amount of money each should be having from the amount that we effectively pay as consumers. In fact, it's got over to Europe as well recently. And Microsoft is now working with parts of the European Commission to make sure this doesn't happen over here in Europe.

Katie - What's the response of the Australian authorities?

Peter - I don't know Katie. I would think the Australian authorities are saying: "Good. They're sorting themselves out without us having to interfere." Because any law change, as we all know, has unintended consequences. So if it can be done in a way that suits both parties, so effectively the providers and the distributors, then the laws, although they probably will be put into place in case something goes wrong in the future, are certainly less urgent.


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