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Facebook shuts the door on Australia and bans all news posts

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Facebook has dropped the hammer on Australia and banned all news posts from its social media platform in response to legislation that could see the tech giant paying to link to Australian news stories.

This means Australian Facebook users will not be able see or share news links on the platform.

Facebook communicated its disappointment in a blog post saying “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.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

This so-called “nuclear” option means Facebook users in Australia will have no access to news on the platform.

If a user or news company tries to share a link they are greeted with a notification that reads:

“This post can’t be shared. In response to Australian government legislation, Facebook restricts the posting of news links and all posts from news Pages in Australia. Globally, the posting and sharing of news links from Australian publications is restricted.”

We tried to post a News.com.au story to Facebook and we were greeted with an error that said: “Something’s gone wrong. We’re working to get it fixed as soon as we can.”

The ban has also extended to other Facebook users around the world who are now no longer able to link to Australian news sites from their countries either.

And if you try and look up the Facebook pages of major news sites like Sydney Morning Herald, News.com.au, Channel 9 and Sky News Australia it now just says “No Posts Yet”.

But even other community, retailer and pages from other independent websites have also been shut down as well.

Facebook’s response to the prospect of having to pay to have news content on its feed has been swift and dramatic.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” said Facebook Australia managing director for Australian and New Zealand, William Easton, in a blog post.

“This discussion has focused on US technology companies and how they benefit from news content on their services.

“We understand many will ask why the platforms may respond differently. The answer is because our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with news. Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content.

“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.”

This Facebook news bans comes days after Google and news outlets arrived at a possible solution for a mutually satisfactory outcome for the News Media Bargaining Code.

Naturally media companies have slammed the move by Facebook to shut them out of the platform that has more than 17 million active users in Australia.

“This action proves again their monopoly position and unreasonable behaviour,” a Nine  spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“But today’s statement does not mean Facebook will not have to abide by the federal government’s proposed code.

“Value has already been transferred and Facebook has benefited from our content for many years.”

“We should be able to access their monopoly platform and have the right to monetise our content as a result.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tweeted today that he’d had a “constructive discussion” with Mark Zuckerberg.

“He raised a few remaining issues with the Government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward,” Frydenberg said in the tweet.

Speaking to Ben Fordham on 2GB today, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said they weren’t going to let Facebook push them around.

“We’ll be maintaining the path that we’ve been following. The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and I have been very consistent on that,” Mr Fletcher said on 2GB radio.

“It’s very important that we have a diverse and well-resourced news media sector in Australia, that’s a critical part of our democracy.

“Now, that may not seem important to a company in Silicon Valley, but it’s very important to the Australian government and the Australian people.

“They are effectively saying to Australians if you’re looking for reliable news Facebook is not the place to look for it.”