Sydney: Facebook President Mark Zuckerberg held talks with the Australian government on Friday about a law forcing the social media giant to pay for content, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted that the country would not bow to big tech “threats”.
As of Thursday, Australians can no longer post links to news articles or see the Facebook pages of Australian outlets, which are also banned from sharing their content.
Treasurer Josh Freidenberg said he spoke with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, and that negotiations will continue over the weekend.
“We spoke through the remaining issues and agreed that our relevant teams would work through them immediately,” Friedenberg said on Twitter.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the media in Sydney that the Facebook ban was a “threat”.
“I thought it wasn’t a good move on their part, and they have to move quickly after that and get back to the table,” he said.
The ban comes in response to a planned Australian law that would force digital giants Facebook and Google to pay major Australian outlets for uploading snippets or links to their content on the platforms.
Morrison said the legislation – The Australian Senate is set to debate it on Monday in the next step toward it becoming law – He was receiving the attention of other world leaders.
He said the law was raised in a phone call on Thursday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“There is a lot of interest in it,” he told the media. “People are looking at what Australia is doing.”
Facebook defended its response, saying the proposed legislation was impractical and insisting it had to introduce a news blackout.
Since the ban went into effect, experts have reported that visitors to Australian news sites have been falling at home and abroad, with overseas traffic dropping more than 20% per day, according to data analytics firm Chartbeat.
The data also indicated that users had yet to leave Facebook in response to the ban, however, with no apparent spike in Google’s search traffic.
The blanket ban on Facebook has drawn widespread criticism to prevent inadvertent access to several important government pages, including emergency services, health departments and the National Weather Service. – With most of them restored in the hours after coming into force.
Despite previous threats to withdraw its research from Australia on the legislation, Google softened its stance and instead brokered several deals with large media companies, including News Corp.