Labor minister warns Meta against removal of Australian news

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Federal Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones has warned Meta against removing Australian news content from Facebook and Instagram feeds.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Jones said Meta has told Australia it will stop media companies and individual users posting news links on Facebook and Instagram if the government uses its laws to force the company to pay for Australian journalism.

“Meta has made it clear they’ll play hardball. So will the government,” Mr Jones said.

Labor fears the $3 trillion firm’s threat would kill off smaller news outlets reliant on social media audiences.

Meta in a blog post said interest in its Facebook new stab had declined by 80 per cent. Photo ABC.

Meta blocked news content, and some emergency services pages, for a few days in 2021 at the height of nationwide border closures and COVID lockdowns as the tech giant negotiated with the government.

Meta and Google ultimately agreed to pay about $200 million to media companies. Meta has refused to sign new deals, in a move that is expected to cost media groups tens of millions of dollars.

The assistant treasurer said he was determined to create a new model to fund journalism that was sustainable and avoided rolling crises after each deal expired.

In response to Mr Jones’ comments, a Meta spokesperson said: “There is no change to publishers’ ability to use Facebook and they can continue to benefit from our free tools and products which they can voluntarily use should they want to.”

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

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