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Facebook blocks all news in and from Australia

The change comes as Australia prepares to pass a law that would require companies like Facebook and Google to pay news publishers to carry their stories.

Facebook

Facebook is restricting all news in and from Australia in advance of a new law that would require companies to pay for news.

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

The company announced Wednesday that it would no longer allow Australian publishers to share news on Facebook or allow Australian people to view or share international news sources.


The change comes as Australia prepares to pass a law that would require companies like Facebook and Google to pay news publishers to carry their stories. "The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia," Facebook's managing director of Australia and New Zealand, William Easton, wrote in a blog post. "With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter."

Before Facebook's announcement Wednesday, Google and News Corp struck a deal through which Google will pay the company —which owns The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, MarketWatch and The New York Post — to feature their stories in Google News Showcase.

Facebook addressed the companies' divergent responses in the blog post. "Our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with news. Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content," Easton wrote. "On the other hand, publishers willingly choose to post news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences and increase advertising revenue."

Easton went on to describe the "business gains" of news on Facebook as "minimal," writing that it accounts for 4% of all content on the platform.

In addition to the restrictions on Australian publishers and users, international publishers will no longer be able to reach Australian users on Facebook, and international users will not be able to share Australian news.

Facebook had planned to launch Facebook News in Australia, according to the post, but is now shelving those plans and investing in other countries instead. "We were prepared to launch Facebook News in Australia and significantly increase our investments with local publishers," Easton wrote. "However, we were only prepared to do this with the right rules in place."

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A Bloomberg-backed ‘tech co’ is building campaign tools for the left and right

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Image: Clayton Cardinalli

A new company backed by Michael Bloomberg's daughter Emma Bloomberg has been quietly buying political tech firms and going on a hiring spree, as it seeks to create a digital organizing platform that operates "outside of a traditional 'Red/Blue' partisan paradigm."

Neither the existence of the firm, called simply Tech co. for now, nor its high-profile funder have been previously reported, though it's been up and running for at least a year. But a spate of recent job listings seeking data scientists, behavioral scientists and engineers have circulated through the insular political tech whisper mill, sparking curiosity as the startup prepares to emerge from stealth mode this spring.

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
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