After being under scrutiny in the US regarding the spread of false information about COVID-19 and allowing people to post messages that violated human rights and instigating to violence, the social media giant, Facebook, is once again under the microscope in Australia.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the country’s antitrust regulator, is working on a bill that, if approved by the Parliament, "would force the tech giants into revenue-sharing deals with publishers." If they don't reach a consensus, independent arbitrators will set the terms of the agreement.
The possible law comes as a response to Facebook's reluctance to pay publishers for the content they post. On Monday, the American company threatened to ban Australian users from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram, rather than comply with the requested changes.
From the Silicon Valley-based company’s point of view, the regulations are absurd, as they would force it to “either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits. Unfortunately, no business can operate this way,” read a post of Will Easton, the Facebook managing director for Australia and New Zealand. Despite his statement, the abovementioned arbitrators will determine the price that publishers should receive. Moreover, the platform would have no recourse to exit the agreement, and the fine for each offense could be as steep as 10% of the overall revenue in Australia.
But Facebook is not the first company to have to obey such laws in Australia. Google warned that the country could lose access to its free services and “provide (you) with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube.” When it comes to paying publishers, #Google shut down Google News in Spain in 2014 rather than accepting it. Like Facebook, in Australia, it faces 10% worth of revenue in fines.
Together, Facebook and Google are controlling more than 60% of the world’s online ad market, and in the US are responsible for roughly 70% of it.
From the experts' perspective, the Australian law could be a base for a future US regulation.
Following the announcement, #Facebook stock price #traded 0.16% lower, but during today’s pre-market session, it managed to wash-off yesterday’s losses by gaining more than 1%.
Read why Facebook was under scrutiny over civil rights here!
Sources: cnbc.com, marketwatch.com, reuters.com, finance.yahoo.com