Facebook has threatened to stop users from sharing news content in Australia as it prepares for a new law forcing it to pay publishers for their articles.
Australians would be stopped from posting both local and international news stories on Facebook and Instagram, the company said, claiming the move was “not our first choice” but the “only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic”.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has drawn up the rules to “level the playing field” between the tech giants and publishers that it says are struggling due to lost advertising revenue.
The ACCC responded to Facebook’s threat to block news content saying it was “ill-timed and misconceived”.
“The code simply aims to bring fairness and transparency to Facebook and Google’s relationships with Australian news media businesses,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director, Will Easton, said the proposed law “misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect”.
“Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers,” he added.
“The ACCC presumes that Facebook benefits most in its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true,
“News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us.” He said
According to Easton, Facebook sent 2.3bn clicks from Facebook’s newsfeed back to Australian news websites, worth around A$200m ($148m; £110m) during the first five months of the year.
A Facebook spokesman told the BBC that it will “provide specific details soon” on how it will enforce the ban.
Google has also campaigned forcefully against the proposed changes, creating pop-ups on the search engine warning “the way Aussies use Google is at risk” and urging YouTubers around the world to complain to Australian authorities.