The Bizarre Reaction To Facebook's Decision To Get Out Of The News Business In Australia

from the it's-quite-reasonable dept

None of this should have been a surprise. Back in September we wrote about Facebook publicly saying that if Australia went forward with its ridiculous attack on the open internet, and instituted a "news link tax" on Facebook and Google, that it would block news links on Facebook in Australia... and basically everyone ignored it. So, yesterday, when Facebook announced that it was no longer allowing news to be shared in Australia (and relatedly, no longer allowing the sharing of Australian news services on Facebook), it should not have been a surprise.

And yet... it seemed to make tons of people freak out for all the wrong reasons. Almost everyone started blaming and attacking Facebook. And, look, I get it, Facebook is a terrible, terrible company and deserves lots of blame for lots of bad things that it does. But this ain't it. There are a lot of examples of this, but because he's the top member of the House of Representatives working on antitrust issues, I'll specifically call out Rep. David Cicilline's response:

That says:

If it is not already clear, Facebook is not compatible with democracy.

Threatening to bring an entire country to its knees to agree to Facebook’s terms is the ultimate admission of monopoly power.

But that's completely nonsensical. We can argue about whether or not Facebook is "compatible with democracy" but the simple facts of the situation are that Australia -- pushed heavily by Rupert Murdoch -- has decided to put in place a plan to tax Google and Facebook for any links to news. The bill has all sorts of problems, but there are two huge ones that should concern basically anyone who supports a free and open internet.

First is the link tax. This is fundamentally against the principles of an open internet. The government saying that you can't link to a news site unless you pay a tax should be seen as inherently problematic for a long list of reasons. At a most basic level, it's demanding payment for traffic. There are two entire industries out there based entirely around trying to get more traffic from these companies: "search engine optimization" and "social media management." The reasons there are those industries is because everyone else in the world has figured out that having prominent links on search engines and social media is valuable in its own right and that it's up to the sites that get those links, and the corresponding traffic, to make use of it.

But here, a bunch of lazy newspaper execs who failed to adapt and to figure out better internet business models not only want the traffic, they also want to get paid for it.

This is like saying that not only should NBC have to run an advertisement for Techdirt, but it should have to pay me for it. If that seems totally nonsensical, that's because it is. The link tax makes no sense.

And, most importantly, as any economist will tell you, taxing something doesn't just bring in revenue, it decreases whatever you tax. This is why we have things like cigarette taxes and pollution taxes. It's a tool to get less of something. So, in this case, Australia is saying it wants to tax links to news on Facebook, and Facebook responds in the exact way any reasonable economist would predict: it says that's just not worth it and bans links. That's not incompatible with democracy. It's not bringing a country to its knees. The country said "this is how much news links cost" and Facebook said "oh, that's too expensive, so we'll stop."

Contrary to the idea that this is an "attack" on journalism or news in Australia, it's not. The news still exists in Australia. News companies still have websites. People can still visit those websites.

Indeed, the people who are saying that this move by Facebook is somehow an "attack" on news or an attack on Australian sovereignty seem to be admitting more than they'd really like: that they think Facebook must be a dominant source of news in the country.

I mean, if Facebook is really such a problem, shouldn't they all be celebrating? This is Facebook saying "okay, okay, we'll completely remove ourselves from the news business." Since everyone was complaining that Facebook was too much of a presence in the news business... isn't that... a victory?

And we haven't even gotten to the other problematic part of the law -- which is that it requires Facebook and Google to give newspapers heads up to algorithmic changes. This is completely disconnected from reality. Facebook and Google may make multiple algorithm changes every day, just to keep their services running. Having to tell newspapers (and them alone) about those changes with a few weeks notice is basically giving those news organizations the keys to the kingdom: it's telling them how to game the algorithms. If you think bogus clickbait is a problem now, just imagine what it's like when all of the Australian press get to know the secrets behind the algorithm, and get to prepare for any changes.

The whole story is absolutely ridiculous. And the most incredible thing is that no matter what Facebook did here it would have gotten yelled at. And the proof is not hard to find. Because just an hour or two before Facebook made this announcement, Google went the other way -- coming to an agreement to pay Rupert Murdoch for featuring Murdoch-owned news organizations content on Google. And people freaked out, complaining about Google helping fund Rupert Murdoch's disinformation empire. Except... that's the whole point of the law? So it's a bit bizarre that the same people are mad about both Facebook's decision to not give free money to Rupert and Google caving to do exactly that:


So... it's bad to pay Murdoch. And it's bad not to pay Murdoch. There is no consistency or principle behind all this other than people so focused on "Facebook and Google must be evil, so even when they do the exact opposite of each other, both are more evidence of evil."

This fight was not "Facebook v. Australia." Or "Facebook v. journalism" even though some ignorant or dishonest people are making it out to be the case. This was always "Rupert Murdoch v. the open web." We may not like Facebook in the role of the defender of the open web (and it's far from the best representative for the open web). But Facebook saying that it won't pay a link tax is a defense of the open web and against Rupert Murdoch. It's the right move, and whatever else you may think of Facebook, the company deserves credit for taking the right stand here.

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Filed Under: australia, link tax, links, news, open internet, rupert murdoch
Companies: facebook, google, news corp.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 9:56am

    'corruption all the way down' is oh, so right! and the biggest politician who has given himself over to corruption seems to me to be Scott Morrison, Australia's prime Minister! how can he go against Facebook or any other company in favor of an asshole like Murdoch? he wants to have complete control of everything, just like Trump! a good pair together!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 9:59am

    "Facebook and Google must be evil, so even when they do the exact opposite of each other, both are more evidence of evil."

    That's not it. People wanted Facebook to cave and Google to oppose. Had that happened everyone would be happy!

    That, or we're all supposed to be hailing Emperor Murdoch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:01am

    A side effect of the ban is that the newspapers can no longer run a Facebook page to drive traffic to their sites. They were a source of the links they want taxed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    R.T., 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:11am

    Weirdly the law would have requires them to reveal algorithm changes but then specifically exempts them from having to reveal trade secrets. So these notifications of algorithm changes might have been as brief as "we are changing the algorithm".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:18am

    1. Create a Facebook page with links to my website.
    2. Demand Facebook pay me for my own links to my own website.
    3. Profit!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:20am

    Re:

    Just like Tom Brady was “questionable” in the injury report for pretty much his entire career with Bill Belichick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Glen, 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:20am

    I'm ok with Facebook's decision but not particularly happy with Google's. I feel that opens up a host of issues for Google but that's their problem now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:21am

    bring an entire country to its knees to agree to Facebook’s terms

    If an entire country is brought to its knees because of a single corporation, that is a sign of a bigger and entirely different problem than a link tax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:29am

    Facebook and others may have missed the "anti-discrimination" clause in the proposed law.

    It's not "you can't discriminate between different Australian news services". It is "you can't even discriminate between Australian news services and the news services of the rest of the world." And eliminating Australian news services from Facebook is discrimination.

    Watch facebook go that one step further - either following Google (old: stepping out of Australia) or following Google (new: bowing to Rupert Murdock).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    William C Bonner (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:29am

    I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    Sometimes the only way to teach is to let the student get hurt.

    It's not like it wouldn't be easily reversible. But if Google just shut off news links to Australian news media, I'm sure the law would be repealed in less than a month.

    Facebook banning news links in Australia is the right thing to do if this law is in place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Henry Ballard, 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:39am

    Facebook is right. Conservatives are wrong

    The only people favoring what prime minister Morrison is doing in Australia are Rupert Murdoch and right wing psycho sites like Breitbart and TheGatewayPundit run by radical kook Jim Hoft. The TheGatewaypundit lies like anything about the November Election and truth be told should be fined and banned. Facebook did right this time and Google did wrong period. Rupert Murdoch is scum and Fox News should be banned off most TV cable stations for its lies. Let’s hope the internet prevails

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Narcissus (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:41am

    Incompatible with democracy

    I think Murdoch is incompatible with democracy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    crade (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    It's not just google's problem, anyone doing a good job at anything is going to have a line of countries with their hands out asking them to prop up the old guard failing industry that can't figure out how to adapt to the internet

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:02am

    You can use a VPN to circumvent that.

    Before you travel to Australia, you can set up a VPN on your home network so you can still access Facebook while you are down there and it will look to Facebook like you are on your home computer and Facebook will never be the wiset

    Using your own home VPN is better than a commercial VPN because your home computer will not be on the list of knownpnownl proxies and vpns from vendors like blockscript

    Doing this does not break any laws in Australia. There is no law in Australia against bypassing IP blocking.

    Don't get me started on.either the cfaa or dmca as neither law applies is in Australia. When you are in Australia you are only subject to Australian laws.

    As a USA/australia dual national i am only subject to Australian laws when I am down down there even though I am a us citizen

    As an Aussie citizen I only have to obey Australian laws when I am down there even though I am a us citizen as well

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:08am

    Totally predictable

    Australia is clearly in the wrong here. Like the debate of Sec. 230, people pretend like we don't know what the world was like before the modern internet. You really only have to go back to the late 90s to find law review articles talking about the copyright dangers of deep linking and content framing.

    You want to know what a link tax is? Take a look at the Washington Post v. TotalNEWS case. (Some information here: https://itlaw.wikia.org/wiki/Washington_Post_v._Total_News). That's literally the model of liability that Australia was seeking. That's not going to work. That's not how any of this works.

    What Australia seems to actually want is ASCAP-style licensing for shared/syndicated news content. As someone who both appreciates the "simplicity" of one-stop music licensing and frustrated by the incompleteness of the same, there is some sense to that. But the result could be no different for Facebook. If the rate is too high, you don't buy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:09am

    Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    Australia has a bicameral parliament, like the US, this legislation had only passed in the lower house, so It was not law yet. Now Facebook is not the internet, its just a profit making entity that doesn't want to pay for resources it uses up. Journalist, reporters should be paid for their efforts, Facebook refused to participate when the government asked for input from "old and new" media, So Facebook spat the dummy yesterday, if Facebook want to walk away from a 4 billion a year profit, STUFF THEM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    I meant 4 billion business, Facebook has no profit so it dodges taxes just like the other multinational businesses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    crade (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:17am

    Re:

    Because a single company won't let them use a web app for sharing tidbits about their day that it created itself? Get a grip australia. Not having facebook capitulate to your demands is not going to be the aussie apocalypse.. It's mostly an inconvenience for everyone and only a big problem for the politicians who caused it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    Problem: Facebook has banned step 1.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    How does my telling someone how to find your story 'use up' your story? I'd also like to hear how my sending someone to your web site makes it impossible for you to make money off that visit, yet the same person stumbling across your web site by accident is someone you can make money from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    Resouces it uses up? What the actual what are you on?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:33am

    Oh you stupid, stupid fools...

    And like that Google just ensured that the previous lawsuits and laws they'd faced and fought regarding link/snippet taxes will be coming back in droves. Cave once and show that you can be pressured into paying for traffic and everyone is going to want a cut of that and as such I have zero sympathy for what Google just brought upon themselves.

    Moving to Facebook never thought I'd utter these words but I am absolutely on their side here and think they made the correct decision. If someone decides to turn a symbiotic relationship into a parasitic one then it is very much the right call on the soon-to-be victim's part to tell them no and cut them off, which is exactly what they did. The idea that Facebook refusing to subsidize another industry/individual makes them 'an enemy of democracy' is so absurd as to be flat out laughable. Facebook was presented with a no-win situation where they stood to gain nothing and lose a bunch, both immediately and in the future, only a fool or a liar would think that they should have just stood there and accepted that and if people want to blame someone for Facebook banning news links/snippets on their platforms they should look to the politicians and the politicians' owner who forced Facebook into that position.

    Lastly as always the responses to rebuffed attempted extortion shows the real motivations behind them. If a platform including links and snippets without paying for them is such a terrible thing then people and companies should be downright thrilled to see those links/snippets disappear, that they're instead freaking out and/or being told to freak out shows that the goal was instead wanting the links and getting paid for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:39am

    'Oops, I sent them so much free traffic they disappeared.'

    I'm curious, if I link to an article you wrote how many times do I have to include that link before the article has been 'used up' and no longer exists?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Mike Anderson, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:42am

    They should pay for content

    Here's the Australian bill: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd2021a/21bd048#_Toc6437 7245 I just skimmed it, but I think the bill requires payment (from Google and FB) for "links and snippets". If G & FB were just posting links, the news outlets would appreciate it, but if they post "links and snippets" it can reduce the traffic to the news site because people read the snippet and don't click on the link. If they're reproducing the content of the news outlet, they should pay for it - this (stated simply like this) isn't very controversial.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:47am

    Re: They should pay for content

    The bill would tax just links. But even if it was links and snippets, if the snippets alone mean there's no value to clicking through and reading the entire article, then again the problem is on the news providers who apparently provide so little value in their writeups, that they can be summarized effectively in a "snippet."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:49am

    Re: They should pay for content

    it can reduce the traffic to the news site because people read the snippet and don't click on the link. If they're reproducing the content of the news outlet, they should pay for it - this (stated simply like this) isn't very controversial.

    If your service provides no value to your customer beyond a dozen words, then your service doesn't deserve to be paid anything at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    David, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Isn't that plain old bakshish or government corruption? Why do we even need laws for lawlessness?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:00pm

    'How dare you not pay for for the traffic you send my way?!'

    Or they can do what Facebook smartly did(and Google had been smart enough to do before this) and simple drop the links rather than paying a parasite. If someone can get the entire gist of a story from a short snippet then that's a sign that the story is either insanely simple, written terribly with 99% fluff, or if the story is good but the snippet is enough to prevent someone from clicking through it's because they don't care about any details and are only interested in surface-level stuff anyway. In none of these cases it's it Facebook's problem that a snippet so people actually have an idea as to what the link they're about to click will lead to might result in some percentage of people only reading the snippet and not clicking the link.

    That said if you really do want to get that penny-pinching then it's extremely dishonest to ignore the other half of the equation, that being the value those links and snippets provide to the publisher in the form of traffic and advertising. As has been shown in previous examples when other parasites tried this stunt and failed those links/snippets provide a hefty amount of traffic, traffic that usually companies would have to pay for in the form of advertising, so if you're really concerned about paying for services rendered and content used then the newspapers/reporters should be paying for that traffic as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:07pm

    Re: They should pay for content

    If links and snippets are do damaging, why do newspapers have employees on Facebook posting links and snippets?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    crade (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: They should pay for content

    The problem as I see it is more that the value they provide isn't in the writeups at all it's in the investigation. People don't really care about their particular wording, they are looking for the underlying information.

    The whole blame google facebook thing is just a grift but I'm not sure "just make better writeups" is the answer either. I think trying to "make better writeups" might even be part of what is causing the issue we are seeing with news prioritizing entertainment value over journalism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. icon
    ECA (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:26pm

    Sleeping giants, talking to IT SELF??

    lets see.
    Gogole and FB dont make news, dont create news, dont do much of anything With creating the news.

    They advert The news sites. Like a paperboy on the corner, with Every newspaper he can find. And he is giving it to you Free.
    Not the news, just the link TO THE NEWS.

    The Sites can CLOSE the entrance and force people to PAY them to see the news. Which isnt G' or FB's problem. They are the paperboy.

    Democracy? Which part of that IS/ISNT democratic? THE newspapers and the Elected, decided to Push for more money. who is getting the money? and Where is it going? insted of the newspapers Going direct to G' and FB' they had the Gov. go after them for the money. NOW that isnt really democratic, and has nothing to do with Government.
    This isnt regulation to control something, this is a demand to PAY the news agencies Money.
    But, for what? Being the newsboy, on the corner? Didnt the only newspapers PAY the newsboy, based on his sales? I dont think those kids had much money, so someone had to get it started.

    The outcome of this, If FB' and G' wish is to CHARGE them for the service now.
    There are only a few types of news. Local, regional, national, international. The only thing a nation has is the first few. International news has nothing to do with 1 nation. And the only people who want the rest are those living In the state/country where the news is created, and There isnt allot of that, comparatively.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re:

    You just don't understand what was said. The country under threat isn't Australia, its Murdochia. After all, in his own head, I'm fairly sure Murdoch would think (if he thought in French) "L'Etat, c'est moi!" and no doubt also "Apres moi, le deluge".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Incompatible with democracy

    Nonsense. Democracy is "one man, one vote". Murdoch is in absolute agreement, so long as he is the "one man".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    Actually you are still subject to a number of US laws, and if you break them you may can be charged and/or arrested when or if you return to the states. One of them is the Foreign Corrupt Practices act. You are also liable for US income tax - though the US does have agreements with most countries that avoid their citizens being liable for dual taxation. Not perfect agreements, mind you. I once had a manager (several levels above mine) who was paid through an off-shore business to avoid having to pay both US and UK taxes while he was working in England.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:43pm

    Re: 'How dare you not pay for for the traffic you send my way?!'

    Perhaps the google and FB should change their business model and create a paid newslink service? Maybe charge the amount that the law requires them to pay plus 10%? If a newspaper doesn't want to pay for the links to get traffic, they simply don't appear in the service. Of course, that would mean that in countries that don't require payment for links, it would work exactly like it does now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: 'How dare you not pay for for the traffic you send my wa

    Seems like a fair compromise to me, though you can be sure the newspapers would be screeching to the heavens about how Facebook was attempted to extort/blackmail them by charging for what they'd been getting for free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 12:51pm

    Re:

    Personally I consider elected officals declaring private businesses "incompatible with democracy" for not providing them with favorable coverage and moderation incompatible with democracy. Being able to use government power to help get reelected in any way other than past performance and human incumbency bias is a clear first step to autocracy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 1:17pm

    Maybe the link and snippet tax was a red herring.

    Maybe the real reason for the law, and I'm just spitballin' here, is that G and FB have the ad market cornered. Everyone wants their ads on the two of them and there's not enough left for the newspaper companies. Even when someone clicks through they just don't have enough ads to serve up. So they do an end-run around the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Oh you stupid, stupid fools...

    Google didn't really cave. They're paying a token sum (reportedly far less than reported) ostensibly for a new service where they actually use the news.

    It took them longest to reach a deal with Murdoch. Probably because they tried to find the journalism first. They didn't have a search engine powerful enough to find any.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 1:52pm

    Scotty from Marketing has the words, "For exclusive use of Rupert only." tattooed across his arse cheeks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. icon
    bhull242 (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    Technically, that would mean that the law is in conflict with itself. By paying for Australian news links and giving them advanced notice, that is discriminating against non-Australian news sources.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. icon
    bhull242 (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    What resources does Facebook use up that it does not pay for?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:06pm

    There were a number of government departments caught up in this mass blockade too so this can also serve as a warning over what will happen when you try to push online platforms to "moderate harder".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:22pm

    $1 to one person, not much. $1 each to hundreds of people...

    If they're still paying then yeah, they caved, and in so doing made clear that they can be pressured to pay out. Even if it is currently 'a token sum' it's more than they were paying before, and with precedent set you can be sure that others will be lining up for 'their share' as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. icon
    Alister (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: They should pay for content

    Lizzie O'Shea in Overland has a typically good take on the matter.

    "Equally, however, this is an important moment to remember that the proposed code was not about protecting the many organisations that generate content and are now contending with blank Facebook pages. Instead, this was tech policy-making driven by large news media companies who saw the opportunity to extract value from an unpopular opponent."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. icon
    crade (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Sleeping giants, talking to IT SELF??

    Lets see.
    No one is forcing these bozos to be indexed by google, they can literally say no thank you any time if they honestly think they getting the short end in any way. Pretty much end of story there.

    Not sure if that is an option on facebook, so maaaaaybe? but they haven't said no to google and no one honestly believes they don't want the free traffic from facebook anyway so not really.

    Google and facebook both disappear, these guys are absolutely no better off, and no one familiar with it honestly believes any different.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. identicon
    Bobvious, 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:42pm

    Re: They should pay for content

    "Mike Anderson DYING.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    to win lotto"

    (And I sincerely hope you do).

    But it's just the sort of "SHOCK" headlines I'm heartily sick of seeing on newspaper websites. Exactly the sort of snippet headline that masks the fluff and nothingness that the non-story is about.

    As others have also stated here, if you can get the gist of the story from the snippet, then there's clearly not much to it.

    When you have a marketing department masquerading as the Federal government, this is why you see stupid laws like this being written.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. icon
    mikeanderson (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: They should pay for content

    > if the snippets alone mean there's no value to clicking through and reading the entire article, then again the problem is on the news providers who apparently provide so little value in their writeups

    Incorrect. Copying something can reduce the value of the original - that's why there are copyright laws. The snippet-copying has been shown to reduce the value of the original content. Blaming this degradation of value on the content creator is nonsense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: They should pay for content

    Which of course explains why the newspapers were absolutely thrilled when Google pulled snippets in previous attempts to shake them down for said snippets, and did not at all throw massive tantrums about how mean Google was being and scramble like mad to get those links/snippets back up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. identicon
    Anonymous Wimp, 18 Feb 2021 @ 2:59pm

    Facebook has made a really good business decision that goes a long way to deal will fake news. Most of what comes out of the Murdoch empire can only be considered to be fake news. Google is pursuing its usual megalomaniac strategy and will OWN the Australian media business within 3 years. They are creating a super new platform (News Showcase) that will feature licensed content from all the media companies. With a one stop shop like that, who is ever going the the original platforms? The peanuts (by Google's standards) they get paid will be insignificant compared to the inevitable loss of subscriptions and advertising revenue. The news game has always been a eyeballs business with Google "find what I am looking for" and Facebook "connect me to my family and friends" were always going to be better at than "here's some news that may or may not interest you". The Australian politicians are playing the favourite "let's beat up big tech" sport. Dumb decision. With an election coming later this year, the last thing they should do is annoy Facebook who is their only connection to the younger voters. Maybe Zuck will move the media filter dial a little to the left and it will cost them the election.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. icon
    SlimTim (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 3:29pm

    Re:

    There’s no discrimination because they made it so that Australian users can’t see any news links, even from international news orgs.

    For Australian users, Facebook is treating all of the news orgs equally. They are all blocked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 3:37pm

    No country has to rely on Facebook,
    Set up a site like news. Australia. Com
    Put ads on it, any news org or local government can put links or articles there
    Users can use bing or go to websites directly
    Facebook is right , paying for snippets or links to news websites breaks the Web
    If you are only just going to social media for news you are an idiot
    Newspapers had at least 10 years to use the Web properly before Facebook got so popular the did not make the choice to
    Do so
    Fb is getting criticised because its also blocking local government websites
    Not just news papers
    Any Web service that gives out a press release even non profits
    It's a complex problem because every business has a Facebook page
    Should they be blocking a TV or radio station
    who defines what news us online

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. icon
    R2_v2.0 (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Oh you stupid, stupid fools...

    While I agree with you that now everyone will come knocking at Google's door cap-in-hand I don't agree that this will be bad for Google.
    Reportedly the agreement signs up the news orgs into Google's Showcase product at which point Google becomes the single largest source of income for all of these organisations.
    It will likely cost google a bunch of money in the short term but it potentially short-circuits the legislation and over time Google can apply the Youtube treatment to it's 'partners'. That is, screw them down, mess with their traffic and jump through new and arbitrary hoops.
    All the while, google starts to become the 'Where' of news.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re:

    There are subtle differences between US and OZ IP laws and then there is the anti discrimination laws as an extra, ianal, but international lawers are pad a lot

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. icon
    R2_v2.0 (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 4:22pm

    Some observations from an Australian

    From some conversations I've had in recent days with non-technical people there is an intuitive understanding that the decline of traditional news is existential and they're pretty sure it's the fault of companies like G/FB.
    What they struggle to articulate is where that nexus is.
    People literally don't know how G/FB make money.
    From that point of view a law that purports to transfer wealth from winners (G/FB) to losers (trad media) sounds just like a tax - something that gets extra support owing to G/FBs practice of shifting profits offshore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. icon
    aerinai (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 4:32pm

    URL Redirectors are going to be interesting shortly

    So I wonder if links to url shorteners will be a thing to circumvent this, and if then the news media will say because a user made a redirect link on a 3rd party site, that then was used on facebook... facebook owes me money!

    grabs popcorn this is about to get interesting folks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. icon
    R.H. (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 4:54pm

    Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    Google was already working on a "News Showcase" program where they pay for access to complete articles from selected publishers. They aren't simply paying for links that show up in search or the current version of Google News. My guess is that they'll simply point countries who want to start charging link taxes to this program and if those countries still want to charge for links in search, they'll cut them off from everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 5:14pm

    'Be careful what you wish for'

    If that is the goal then while I don't usually cheer on consolidation of power for large companies I'll certainly be cheering Google on as they start increasingly yanking the leash that the newspapers willingly put around their own necks in the belief that they would be the ones holding the other end.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 5:33pm

    Would the new Australia law cover Twitter and Reddit aswell?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 5:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: They should pay for content

    Incorrect. Copying something can reduce the value of the original - that's why there are copyright laws.

    They're not copying something -- they're LINKING. And at most a couple sentences are shown. This is why there are things like fair use/fair dealing.

    The snippet-copying has been shown to reduce the value of the original content.

    If it has, then that means that the writeups are worthless, and those publishers deserve to fail.

    Blaming this degradation of value on the content creator is nonsense.

    No, it's reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 5:37pm

    Re:

    Nope. It was literally written to say that it would just apply to Google and Facebook. It's a true bill of attainder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re: 'How dare you not pay for for the traffic you send my wa

    Thats a great idea. Maybe call it "Showcase" or something.. ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Maybe the link and snippet tax was a red herring.

    Maybe the newspapers charge more then Google or FBfor ad space so news sites get less business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Really who needs Facebook, it's overvalued, the stockholders cannot afford any additional costs on the bottom line, there might be a reappraisal of the share value

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65. identicon
    James, 18 Feb 2021 @ 7:15pm

    Monopsonies, not monopolies

    Facebook and Google aren't monopolies in this market, they're monopsonies. Taxing them and funding public journalism directly, while a good idea as an alternative, doesn't help it get distribution on Facebook or Google, the former in particular would still be incentivised to promote clickbait/controversial content to increase engagement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66. icon
    Tech 1337 (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 8:06pm

    Re: Incompatible with democracy

    Facebook: So, you want us to pay publishers who voluntarily choose to publish their stuff on our platform?
    Government: Yep, that's what the law will require.
    Facebook: And what about the value we're giving them from free brand advertising, customer relationships, and clicks?
    Government: What value? Look, we're giving you two options. You either have to take all the news, or none of it. Your choice.
    Facebook: OK, we choose none.
    Government: You bully!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 8:27pm

    It's not a link tax. It's a requirement to enter arbitration. The monopoly watchdog's report can be found here: https://www.accc.gov.au/publications/digital-platforms-inquiry-final-report

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 8:27pm

    Re: Re:

    I can't find that in the law (although I could just be missing it) but I am seeing references to "designated digital platform corporation" and wouldn't be surprised if only those two were "designated".

    Given that "In making the determination, the Minister must consider whether there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news businesses and the group comprised of the corporation and all of its related bodies corporate", I'd almost be surprised if anyone else qualified.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2021 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Monopsonies, not monopolies

    That isn't what a monopsony is in the first place. A monosopy is a situation with only one buyer in the market dominating it - if new automatic weapons and military hardware may only be legally sold to the domestic government they are a monosopy.

    Even ignoring the immediate self contradiction of plural forms of a monosopy or monopoly in the same field (say that there was a hypothetical ill advised merger approved) - people would give money to hypothetical Googlebook for their ad placements.

    Googlebook's buyer role would be youtube with any paid creators through ad revenue sharing and ignoring any not posting for profit. Calling youtube a monosopy is an outright farce as everyone and their dog has created their own media service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 10:17pm

    Re: Some observations from an Australian

    ... that mindset sounds strikingly like the 'I don't like those companies, therefore X must be their fault and they should be punished for it' one mentioned in the article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71. icon
    PaulT (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: They should pay for content

    "Copying something can reduce the value of the original - that's why there are copyright laws"

    ...which often have exemptions for the use of reporting, commentary, etc.

    By the way - newspapers used to have no problem with multiple people sharing their papers, and even built in to their business models the assumptions that for every paper bought they'd have multiple readers. Are you saying people leaving a paper in the break room when they were finished with it were pirates or thieves now?

    "The snippet-copying has been shown to reduce the value of the original content."

    Citation needed. Difficulty: must show that the actual content has been reduced in value, not that an incompetent practiser of a dated business model believes they lost some ad revenue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72. icon
    PaulT (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:18pm

    Re: Sleeping giants, talking to IT SELF??

    "Gogole and FB dont make news, dont create news, dont do much of anything With creating the news."

    They don't. They provide ancillary services to enable people to locate, share and discuss the news.

    "Not the news, just the link TO THE NEWS"

    Yes, which drives traffic to the people who produce it that might not exist without those links.

    "The Sites can CLOSE the entrance and force people to PAY them to see the news"

    They can, and some do by erecting paywalls or competently using the robots.txt feature available to every website. If they choose not to do that, it doesn't mean other companies owe them free money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73. icon
    PaulT (profile), 18 Feb 2021 @ 11:20pm

    Re: Some observations from an Australian

    "the decline of traditional news is existential and they're pretty sure it's the fault of companies like G/FB."

    However, they are wrong in that assessment. The problem is the decline of actual journalism and most of these sites writing worthless clickbait articles that essentially rewrite the AP feed and corporate press releases.

    "People literally don't know how G/FB make money"

    Their business models are pretty clear and widely reported on. It's not the fault of those companies if people choose to remain ignorant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 12:38am

    Re: Re:

    Not necessarily. You could just conclude that they need to pay and give advance notice to non-Australian news sources as well to conform to the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 12:49am

    The fools have handed the readers to Google

    What they haven't figured out is that Google will be creating the greatest media site of all with their content. When they licensed their content they have made it possible to produce a very good news site of their own with the best of all the content and no need to visit any of their sites. Knowing Google, they will do this really well and have lots of options that allow good cross referencing of articles etc. They will probably create an AI to provide really good news summaries based on all the content, tailored to individuals.

    You will be able to freely access content that will be behind paywalls on the media outlet's site (after all Google paid for it) and Google will probably provide it ad-free, at least initially. There is no way that anyone will want to visit any media site when they can get a much better product from Google. Google will own all the eyeballs just like they have done on YouTube and so many other services.

    I give it 3 years (the length of the agreements) before most of them are out of business. If Google is smart they will buy one of them cheap or form their own from all the displayed journos. The only one that will survive will be the ABC which is by far the best anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 1:29am

    Re: Maybe the link and snippet tax was a red herring.

    Maybe this is less about money and more about who owns the 'truth'. Murdoch news helps liberal governments get re-elected. With no aggregators left pointing voters to independent news outlets, and not independent news outlets left standing once the dust settles, there will be only one source of information.

    FBs response was likely the exact response they were hoping to get, and I bet they wished G did the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77. icon
    Federico (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 2:51am

    Traffic jumps

    News Corp Australasia Executive Chairman Michael Miller, testifying at an unrelated parliamentary hearing, confirmed the impact but said the number of Australians visiting the company’s websites directly had risen.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-media-facebook/undeterred-by-facebook-news-blac kout-australia-commits-to-content-law-idUSKBN2AI2ZY

    So, everyone happy? (At least the big news sites.) That's what the big players were salivating for, more direct traffic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78. icon
    Federico (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 2:54am

    Tweaks upcoming?

    The minister/lawmaker who wrote the bill says:

    We talked through their remaining issues & agreed our respective teams would work through them immediately. We’ll talk again over the weekend.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/feb/19/misinformation-runs-rampant-as-facebook-says-it -may-take-a-week-before-it-unblocks-some-pages

    Applying the law before it actually entered into force allows to tweak it before it's too late. I'm curious what changes will be made if any...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:29am

    The odd thing about this is the "journalists" and media companies are not keen for it to go the other way.

    Even "legitimate" news companies will have articles and stories that are essentially nothing but facebook or twitter posts. If paying the source of content is so important, why aren't they paying users for those tweets and fbupdates? If social media and tech needs to pay for users discussing news stories, then media should be paying the other way too. It is only fair.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:31am

    Re:

    Murdoch is not the only organisation taking Facebook to task.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem is that if every country takes 1/2% of Facebook profits, they go broke because they have none for themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:33am

    Re: Re:

    These corporates use transfer pricing to avoid paying tax in Australia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:36am

    Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    Facebook the teacher, parliament the student. Probably the other way round. Facebook, like Uber in the UK, has just learned that the idea of go fast and break things doesn't always work. Google gets the otherr options open to government on tax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84. identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:38am

    This all sounds so familiar. Legacy companies can't compete, so they need help staying in business instead of adapting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:40am

    Re: They should pay for content

    Quite so. And a word of warning . The laws of statutory interpretation in jus=risdictions outside the US work on different models.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: They should pay for content

    They are putting ads next to the links.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re: They should pay for content

    The history if how that came about was at the root of the monopoly watchdog;'s recommendations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88. icon
    vintermann (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:49am

    Re: Re:

    That's right, just like there are plenty of starving artists being useful idiots for RIAA and its ilk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89. icon
    PaulT (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: They should pay for content

    "They are putting ads next to the links."

    So, they are putting ads on the page where people find the links before they click on them. So? Should a service provider not get income from a service they provide if the service is just to inform them about another site?

    Also, Google News expressly does not put ads next to the links.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90. icon
    Paul Herbert Wiggins (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:51am

    Re:

    The bottom line is this: Facebook is using transfer pricing to avoid tax in a market they've entered. The government has gone for the softer option of arbitration rather than closing the tax loophole. Google is smart enough to accept reality and has gone straight to arbitration without an arbitrator.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91. icon
    PaulT (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 4:53am

    Re: Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    "the idea of go fast and break things doesn't always work"

    Tat's not what they're doing, but since they've opted to simply not offer the service rather than "break things" by doing so, what's the problem?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Freemon, 19 Feb 2021 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Too bad TechDirt can't admit the 2020 Presidential election was a complete fraud. I come around very infrequently now because how much insight am I going to gain from an entity that willfully ignores what the elites did up in our faces to make us realize democracy is DEAD.

    Yes and it is dead in Australia too so the article is moot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93. icon
    PaulT (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Too bad TechDirt can't admit the 2020 Presidential election was a complete fraud"

    That will because despite being laughed out of court so many times, the cult has not provided any evidence that it's true.

    Do you have such evidence?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  94. icon
    Narcissus (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Maybe the link and snippet tax was a red herring.

    Murdoch news helps liberal governments get re-elected.

    He does? Do you know who owns Fox?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95. icon
    PaulT (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Maybe the link and snippet tax was a red herring.

    I suspect he's talking about the Australian Liberal party, which is very different politically from the American definition of the word.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  96. icon
    Narcissus (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re:

    While I do agree that FB and Google should pay more taxes, locally if possible, I also think that if you want to charge more tax, you have to change the tax code. Not do something like this.
    Also tax is usually for the government while this is going to news providers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  97. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re:

    Facebook is using transfer pricing to avoid tax in a market they've entered.

    What market have they entered?

    Facebook isn't writing the news, they're providing a place (supported by ads) where it says "go here to read the news." If they have to pay a tax on their ad revenue in general, I don't see a problem with that and based on what I've read, neither does Facebook.

    However, if they have to pay some additional fee because there's a link to a specific type of site, that's silly, and if Facebook's response to that idea is "fine then, we won't allow those types of links to be posted," what's wrong with that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  98. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 9:02am

    Insert crying South Park koala here

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  99. icon
    nasch (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    It's not a link tax. It's a requirement to enter arbitration.

    Arbitration for what? For how much Google and Facebook must pay for news links. Thus, a link tax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  100. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 10:10am

    'Softer' is a funny way to spell 'corrupt'

    The bottom line is this: Facebook is using transfer pricing to avoid tax in a market they've entered. The government has gone for the softer option of arbitration rather than closing the tax loophole.

    Bollocks. The response to 'a company isn't paying the taxes we want them do because of loopholes we have in the tax code' would be to fix that loophole so they have to pay it, not create an entirely new tax that coincidentally goes straight to another industry. This is legalized protectionism and extortion, 'you will support these parasites because you're successful and they're not.'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 10:15am

    'Pay up or get out! ... Hey, get back here and start paying us!'

    However, if they have to pay some additional fee because there's a link to a specific type of site, that's silly, and if Facebook's response to that idea is "fine then, we won't allow those types of links to be posted," what's wrong with that?

    Because just like every other time this stunt has been tried that's not the goal or desired outcome. Those pushing for link/snippet taxes don't want the platforms/services to pay up or go without, they want the traffic that the links/services provide them and to be paid for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re:

    That part is true but my point is that the cfaa does not apply some n australia

    And second, a felony charge under the cfaa requires one if two the things

    You used an illegally obtained password

    or

    Intentionally damaged their network

    She jve bypassing geo filtering is neither, the cfaa does not apt

    That is why when I drive to Canada or mexico and log in the the VPN on my home computer to listen to iheartradio whole driving I am not committing any felony because I am neither using an illegally obtained password or committing any nyentional damage to their networks

    And the dmca dies not apply because I am not doing that for any kind of financial gain

    And there is the point i made already that the cfaa and dmca do not apply outside the United States

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  103. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 19 Feb 2021 @ 10:26am

    Re: Maybe the link and snippet tax was a red herring.

    It's the opposite. The existence of the internet broke Newspapers' cornering of the ad market, and instead of innovating to fit into the new reality, they're want their old, failing structure to be subsidized.

    Google and Facebook are in no way responsible for this; they're targeted solely because they're rich.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  104. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 10:53am

    Re: URL Redirectors are going to be interesting shortly

    It depends on if they need to check the redirect links or not by the law. Regardless saying "go to <section> on the <news> website and enter <index number> for the story wouldn't be a link.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  105. identicon
    Bobvious, 19 Feb 2021 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Too bad you can't admit the 2016-2020 President was a complete fraud" FTFY

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  106. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2021 @ 3:47pm

    overstepping its place

    This Action by facebook shows how they value fake information over facts, blackballing links to old media and health services news sites, but allowing links to US anti-vax sites, US Fake news sites (breibart etc), Facebook actions show it thinks it is a government able to make policy, make war, by spreading propaganda harmful to democracy. Not a company that is subject to the jurisdictions it operates in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  107. identicon
    Patrick Gillett, 19 Feb 2021 @ 5:33pm

    What’s missing

    Good post, and for the most part I agree. The missing element though is the argument that “news is different” which is a valid position. This argument implicitly views FB as a news company whether they like it or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  108. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2021 @ 3:24am

    For some mad reason, Techdirt keeps forgetting my name and password and the email reset requests lead to expired/broken links, so I'm now AC.

    The whole thing is mad. Requiring companies to pay for links is nuts and goes against everything the Internet is supposed to stand for. Facebook, on the other hand, has introduced gun to foot. Their thermonuclear response has included blocking support groups, charities and a whole raft of other stuff that have fuck all to do with journalism.
    The whole thing is like two immature kids having a playground fight. You're wrong! No, you're wrong and I'm right!
    Fucking spare us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  109. icon
    PaulT (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So strange how every time I ask that question it’s met with silence. I’d have thought if these people had such obvious evidence of fraud they’d share it at every opportunity

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  110. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2021 @ 8:17am

    Dept of Unintended Consequences

    I had a thought, the Christchurch shooting was livestreamed and copies were rapidly and repeatedly distributed via the internet. If Facebook and Google are required to give 2 weeks notice before changing their algorithms, won't that prevent them from taking rapid action to remove and downrank that content after any future event?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  111. icon
    Federico (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 8:51am

    Re: The letter of the law

    The draft of the law runs to 58 pages...
    https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result ?bId=r6652
    https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/bills/r6652_third-reps/toc_pdf/ 20177b01.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

    Contrary to what written in the article, Google and Facebook do not seem to be mentioned explicitly, unless it was in some attachment I missed:

    «(1) The bargaining news business representative for a registered news
    business may notify a responsible digital platform corporation for a
    designated digital platform service that it wishes to bargain over
    one or more specified issues relating to the registered news
    business’ covered news content made available by the designated
    digital platform service.
    (2) If the bargaining news business representative is the bargaining
    news business representative for 2 or more registered news
    businesses, a notification made for the purposes of subsection (1)
    may relate to some or all of those registered news businesses.»

    The forbidden content includes literally any website:

    «core news content means content that reports, investigates or
    explains:
    (a) issues or events that are relevant in engaging Australians in
    public debate and in informing democratic decision-making;
    or
    (b) current issues or events of public significance for Australians
    at a local, regional or national level.
    covered news content means content that is any of the following:
    (a) core news content;

    news business means:
    (a) a news source; or
    (b) a combination of news sources.
    news source means any of the following, if it produces, and
    publishes online, news content:
    (a) a newspaper masthead;
    (b) a magazine;
    (c) a television program or channel;
    (d) a radio program or channel;
    (e) a website or part of a website;
    (f) a program of audio or video content designed to be
    distributed over the internet.»

    Every link is forbidden:

    «(1) For the purposes of this Part, a service makes content available if:
    (a) the content is reproduced on the service, or is otherwise
    placed on the service; or
    (b) a link to the content is provided on the service; or
    (c) an extract of the content is provided on the service.
    (2) Subsection (1) does not limit, for the purposes of this Part, the
    ways in which a service makes content available.»

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  112. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps since every right-winger's accusation is a confession, they're just always deciding to take the fifth?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  113. icon
    nasch (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: The letter of the law

    The key is "designated digital platform service". There's some minister or someone responsible for designating services, and apparently the plan is to designate Google and Facebook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  114. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 10:25am

    Re: Dept of Unintended Consequences

    You vastly underestimate the opportunistic hypocrisy of politicians, I could easily see them hold both that platforms have to give two weeks notice before implementing changes to their algorithms and raking platforms over the coals for not pulling content immediately just because the ones posting it found a way to game the algorithms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  115. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That would require them to be able to understand the idea of 'every accusation a confession' and how it applies to themselves, I suspect instead it's that they've realized that whenever they do present their 'amazing evidence' it gets ripped to pieces and shown to be worthless so instead they pull a Trump and merely claim to have amazing evidence and bank on gullible people repeating that claim without realizing that they never actually presented said 'evidence'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  116. icon
    Federico (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: The letter of the law

    Yes, something like that. I wonder how confident Satya Nadella is that Microsoft won't be next, if there's a new PM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  117. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 20 Feb 2021 @ 6:10pm

    Re:

    It's not a link tax. It's a requirement to enter arbitration.

    "It's not a link tax, it's a requirement to negotiate how much you'll be taxed, and if you fail to agree, then we just tell you how much to pay."

    It's a tax, mate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  118. identicon
    bob, 20 Feb 2021 @ 10:49pm

    Re:

    I am surprised google caved and paid. In other countries they just said see ya. Now they are paying, what was the difference between France, Germany, and Australia?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  119. identicon
    Bobvious, 21 Feb 2021 @ 1:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "So strange how every time I ask that question it’s met with silence."

    That's my observation as well. Plenty of news reports and youtubes of people being asked to offer actual proof and lots of bluster and/or walking away from the camera happening.

    "Unprecedented allegations" are just that - crap being made up, mud being flung, shouters shouting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  120. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Feb 2021 @ 3:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Indeed, there's no reason to take them seriously. The only two things that seem to support their delusions are a refusal to understand linear time (yeah, Trump looked to be ahead at a certain point during the count, but then the count continued...) or a refusal to understand that some states were forced not to count mail in votes until after the in-person votes (so, obviously, the mail-in votes that favoured sane people who tried to avoid gathering together during a pandemic were counted after the Trump-favouring physical votes).

    Anything else is just innuendo about postal ballots being shipped in after the polls had closed, for which zero evidence has been provided. Indeed, the only actual examples of voter fraud that have been proven were cultists trying to vote multiple times for Trump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  121. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2021 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Re: They should pay for content

    A business does not encourage that which damages it, but only that which increases its profits. Nobody forced the Newspapers to join Facebook, and their doing so indicates that it is successful marketing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  122. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2021 @ 4:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Too bad TechDirt can't admit the 2020 Presidential election was a complete fraud."

    We can't all be clueless losers like the alt-right. The rest of us aren't gullible enough to take a post-it note with allegations of fraud more seriously than the what, dozen court cases where you morons were asked to present your evidence of fraud and couldn't substantiate a single one of your claims.

    "I come around very infrequently now..."

    You keep telling us this, every damn day the topic happens to be section 230, Google, or copyright infringement. Honestly, how hopeless do you have to be if you feel compelled to lie even about how regularly you feel compelled to make an appearance?

    Seriously, Baghdad Bob. Get help.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  123. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2021 @ 5:40am

    Re: Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    "Journalist, reporters should be paid for their efforts..."

    So Facebook and Google should pay those journalists for providing them a free service?

    FB and Google are here literally the mapmaker being extorted by a few ailing restaurants who feel the mapmaker should pay them for showing people the road to the restaurant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  124. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2021 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: I wish Google had cut off Australian news

    "Facebook, like Uber in the UK, has just learned that the idea of go fast and break things doesn't always work."

    Nothing says "troll" like a new account with a total of 8 comments all defending the link tax. Except possibly an argument of broken logic based on false equivalence and made in bad faith.

    Google and FB provided links meaning that they merely act as the mapmaker showing consumers the road. Now some ailing industry insists the mapmaker showing where their business is pay them for that "privilege"? The only proper response is to say "Fine, we'll take you off our maps".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  125. identicon
    Yes, I know I' m commenting anonymously, 22 Feb 2021 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Incompatible with democracy

    That is valid for Vetinary, not Murdoch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  126. identicon
    Sean hocking, 5 Mar 2021 @ 2:42pm

    re australia / fb

    Thankyou tech dirt - the only commonsense article in a desert of stupidity on this issue

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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