Time to get tough with ‘bully’ Facebook, UK lawmaker and publishers say

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LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook’s move to block all news content in Australia is an attempt to undermine democracy and reinforce the decision of lawmakers around the world to crack down on technology giants, a senior British lawmaker said.

Launched 17 years ago, Facebook’s move has stunned Australia and begun to shake up the global news industry, which has already overthrown its business model by the titans of the technological revolution.

“This move in Australia – this movement of thugs – I think will inspire a desire to go even further among legislators around the world,” said Julian Knight, chairman of the UK Parliament’s Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. told Reuters.

“We represent the people and I’m sorry, but you can’t bulldoze it – if Facebook thinks it can do it, it will face long-term rage like big oil and tobacco,” said Knight, a member of the ruling Conservative Party.

The debate is based on a planned Australian law that requires Facebook and Alphabet Inc. to enter into commercial agreements with Google to pay for news that drives traffic to their platforms or that prices are negotiated through arbitration.

Facebook said it had blocked many pages in Australia because it did not clearly define the content of the news in the bill. It is said that its commitment to combating misinformation has not changed and will restore pages that were removed by mistake.

Knight’s comments echoed the views of the head of the UK’s media sales team on the news.

Henry Faur Walker, chairman of the News Media Association, said Facebook’s ban during the global pandemic was “a classic example of monopoly power being a schoolyard bully who is less concerned about the citizens and customers he serves.” ‘trying to defend with tibor.’

Determining the battle

Governments around the world have been wondering what to do with technology giants that have changed global connectivity for years, expanding misinformation and taking away revenue from traditional media producers.

Comparing the innovations and breakdowns of U.S. technology giants with the invention of printing in Europe in the 15th century, Knight said the clash between the state and the technology giant would be one of the battles that define our time.

“This (Australia) is a real test case,” Knight said, adding that he preferred to look at the tech giants and use competition rules to force them to pay for content.

In Britain, the government has ordered a review of the stability of digital competition and innovation.

Its major mass publishers have signed partnership agreements with Google and Facebook, but industry sources said the government is lobbying for more work and is backed by the Australian government.

Publishers lined up to express their surprise that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had made such a move.

“A lot for Facebook’s commitment to freedom of speech,” said a spokesman for MailOnline, one of the world’s most popular news websites. “We were amazed by these provocative actions.”

The British media company Guardian Media Group, which owns the Guardian newspaper, said it was deeply concerned about Facebook’s move.

“Currently, the dominant online platforms are the main door to open news and information online. We believe that in order to have a healthy democracy, journalism should be as broad as possible in the public interest, ”he said.

Reports by Kate Holton and Gay Folkbridge; Edited by Kate Weir

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