Arts & Entertainment

Australia questions Facebook credibility amid news ban

Sydney, Australia, Feb 18 (efe-epa).- The Australian government questioned the “credibility” of Facebook as a news source on Thursday after the United States tech giant banned publishers and users in the country from sharing and viewing news.

On Thursday morning, Australian and international news pages were unavailable in the country, and Australian news could not be viewed outside the country.

“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing,” Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told public broadcaster ABC. “At a time when there are already questions about the credibility of information on Facebook, that is something that they will obviously need to think about.”

“They’re effectively saying that ‘on our platform there will not be any information from any organization which employs paid journalists, which have fact-checking processes, which have editorial policies.’ They’re effectively saying that ‘any information that is available on our site does not come from these reliable sources,'” he added.

The technology company indicated that the measure is in response to a law proposal that the Australian government is promoting to force Facebook and other platforms to pay for the news and content that they publish.

“In response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” the firm headed by Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

But the ban has also blocked other pages, such as those for state fire and rescue services, the meteorology bureau, state governments and health departments, sexual assault and domestic violence response and counseling services, homelessness and poverty support pages, cancer and disability organizations, indigenous advocacy and health groups, charities, universities, large retailers, sports and arts pages, and even its own page, although Facebook said that the government pages should not be affected.

The Australian parliament is studying a bill that forces technology and media to agree to a payment for news, and if an agreement is not reached, a court must mediate to decide the amount.

Both Facebook and Google, which threatened to stop operating in the country, have repeatedly expressed their rejection of this bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday and is expected to reach the Senate next week.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg wrote on Twitter that he had a “constructive discussion” with Zuckerberg, who “raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code (bill).”

Also on Wednesday, Google and News Corp, publisher of titles such as The Times, The Sun, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, announced an agreement whereby the internet giant will pay to show content on the search engine’s news section.

It is a three-year agreement whereby Google will pay News Corp in exchange for being able to display the news produced by the various newspapers it owns in the prominent section of Google News, but the “significant payments” were not detailed.

The search engine also recently reached another similar agreement with 121 publishing companies in France and in recent times has closed private contracts with publishers in Argentina, Brazil, Germany and the United Kingdom. EFE-EPA


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