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Australia May Lose Access to News on Facebook, Meta Says

The decision now rests with Australia's Assistant Treasurer to determine whether to intervene and require Facebook to pay for news content. The Assistant Treasurer has indicated that he is still gathering information, but has expressed concerns that Meta only complies with the law when it is convenient for them to do so.

Meta, the owner of Facebook, is considering removing news content from its platform in Australia if the government requires it to pay licensing fees, a company spokesperson revealed during a parliamentary hearing on Friday, June 28, 2024.

When asked if the company would block Australians from sharing news content to avoid paying fees, Meta’s regional policy director Mia Garlick told lawmakers that they are open to considering various options.

“All options are on the table. There’s a large number of channels that people can get news content from,” Garlick said

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She added that Meta is awaiting a decision from Canberra on whether to enforce a controversial 2021 law, which grants the government the authority to establish the fees that U.S. tech behemoths, like Meta, must pay to media outlets for sharing links to their content.

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Meta’s statements suggest that the company may adopt a similar stance in Australia as it did in Canada in 2023 when it responded to similar legislation.

Meta previously reached agreements with Australian media companies, such as News Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, when the law was introduced in Australia. However, Meta has now stated that it will not extend these agreements beyond 2024.

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The decision now rests with Australia’s Assistant Treasurer to determine whether to intervene and require Facebook to pay for news content.

The Assistant Treasurer has indicated that he is still gathering information, but has expressed concerns that Meta only complies with the law when it is convenient for them to do so.

Australia’s two largest free-to-air television networks, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media announced job cuts this week, attributing the decision to a decline in revenue following the expiration of their agreements with Meta.

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