Facebook restricts Australian users and publishers from viewing and sharing news

In a shocking escalation on Thursday February 18, Australians woke up to the announcement that Facebook has blocked news access in their feeds.

The drastic action comes after the social media giant's stand-off with the federal government and its proposed media bargaining laws, which would force major tech companies to pay Australian news outlets for their content.

Facebook made the announcement in a blog post authored by the company’s Australia and New Zealand managing director, William Easton, after the code was passed through the House of Representatives last night.

"The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content," said Easton.

"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."

So what does this decision mean? 

For Australian publishers:

- They are restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook pages
- Admins will still be able to access other features from their Facebook Page, including Page insights and Creator Studio   
- Facebook will continue to provide access to all other standard Facebook services, including data tools and CrowdTangle

For international publishers:

- They can continue to publish news content on Facebook, but links and posts can’t be viewed or shared by Australian audiences

For the Australian community: 

- They cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook or content from Australian and international news pages 

For the international community:

- They cannot view or share Australian news content on Facebook or content from Australian news pages

Facebook’s move is in contrast to the approach from the other major platform subject to the code, Google.

Although Google had threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia if the code went ahead, in the past week, Google has signed agreements with some of Australia’s biggest publishers.

This includes News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, for payment for its News Showcase product, as reported by The Guardian.