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Australia unperturbed by the Facebook news blackout, Australia continues with the content law

The front pages of Australian newspapers featuring stories on Facebook run in Sydney today. (AP photo)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged on Friday to press ahead with laws to force Facebook to pay media outlets for content, saying he had received support from world leaders after the social media giant blocked all media.

Facebook stripped the pages of domestic and foreign news outlets for Australians and banned users of its platform from sharing any news content on Thursday, saying it left no choice in the new content laws.

The move, which also wiped out many state government and emergency department accounts, as well as non-profit charitable sites, caused outrage.

Morrison, who slammed Facebook on its private platform for “unfriending” Australia, said on Friday that the leaders of Britain, Canada, France and India had shown their support.

“There is a lot of global interest in what Australia is doing,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

“That’s why I’m calling on … Facebook to participate constructively because they know what Australia will do here is likely to be followed by many other Western jurisdictions.”

The Australian law, which will force Facebook and Google to strike business deals with Australian publishers or face mandatory arbitration, has already been approved by the Federal House of Representatives and is expected to pass by the Senate within the next week.

Australian Treasury Secretary Josh Freidenberg said he spoke to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the second time in the wake of the news blackout.

“We spoke through the remaining issues and agreed that our respective teams would work through them immediately.” Friedenberg said in a tweet, “We will talk again over the weekend.

In its statement announcing the move in Australia, Facebook said the Australian law had “misunderstood” its value for publishers.

Friedenberg earlier told Australian Broadcasting Corp that “there is something much bigger here at stake than just one or two trade deals. This is about Australia’s sovereignty.”

Both Facebook and Alphabet Inc, which are owned by Google, campaigned against the laws as they both threatened to withdraw key services from Australia if the laws went into effect.

However, Google announced a raft of proactive licensing deals over the past week, including a global agreement with News Corp.

Facebook brought back some government pages later on Thursday, but many charities, nonprofits, and even neighborhood groups remained dark.

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