Facebook vs Australia

I’m fascinated by the Facebook v Australia war playing out right now.

As I understand the war, it was incited by the Australian government threatening to pass a law that any post of Australian media onto social media meant that the media source had to be compensated by the hosting site. So if I posted a news story from ABC (Australia Broadcast Corporation) onto Facebook, Facebook – not me – would have to pay ABC for the link.

That’s just not how the internet works. Which brings up two possible streams of thought:

A) Shouldn’t ABC be monetising the clicks that such a posting leads to, rather than trying to monetise the post itself?

Or B) If this is how we want the internet to work (creating unsinkable silos of information), we have to redefine every aspect of HTML, usr behaviour and the history of the internet.

Facebook’s response has been to remove all Australian media from Facebook, and, going one step further, to remove all Australian government pages and information from Facebook.

The first part seems a good way to demonstrate the flaws in the Australian government’s logic, the second part shows what the internet would look like if such legislation were enforced, and it’s not pretty.

The ABC’s website is replete with notices like this.

I don’t often side with Facebook (ed note: have I ever?) but in this case, I think they’re right. The legislation is ill-advised and fundamentally rethinks a tool (the internet as a whole) that is too well-entrenched to be radically changed at this time.

Here’s an overview from the Australian media’s perspective. Interestingly, if I understand what they’re fighting about, I might have to remove this link or else pay for it.

I don’t allow commenting on this website, so if you want to explain to me where I’m wrong, the best way is to find me on twitter @StephenGParks. If I’m wrong or ill-informed, I’ll amend this article as I deem it needs it.