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TIMELINE-Events leading to Facebook’s dramatic unfriending of Australian news outlets

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(A TIMELINE is a sidebar that lists in chronological orderevents related to a major news story.)

SYDNEY, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister ScottMorrison vowed on Friday to press ahead with laws to forceFacebook Inc to pay news outlets for content, saying hehad received support from world leaders after the social mediagiant blacked out all media.

Here's a timeline of how the events unfolded in recentyears.

July 2017 - Australia's competition regulator recommended avoluntary code in its Digital Platforms Inquiry to addressbargaining power imbalances between major digital platforms -Google and Facebook - and media businesses.

Dec 2017 - The watchdog -- Australian Competition andConsumer Commission (ACCC) -- said it would investigate whetherU.S. online giants Facebook and Alphabet Inc's Googlehave disrupted the news media market to the detriment ofpublishers and consumers.

July 2019 - Australia said it would establish the world'sfirst dedicated office to police Facebook and Google as part ofreforms designed to rein in the U.S. technology giants.

Dec 2019 - The Government directed the ACCC to work withboth the news and digital platform businesses to develop avoluntary code.

April 2020 - the government directed the ACCC to draft amandatory code after the regulator advised that the businesseswere “unlikely to reach voluntary agreement” and COVID-19exacerbated the pressures faced by Australian media sector

July 2020 - The ACCC released draft legislation for themedia bargaining code.

July 2020 - Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says thecountry would force Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to payAustralian media outlets for news content.

Aug 2020 - Google criticised proposed Australian antitrustlaws saying its free search service would be "at risk" andusers' personal data could be shared if it is made to pay newsorganisations for their content.

Sept 2020 - Facebook said it would stop Australians sharingnews content on its platforms if a proposal to make it pay localmedia outlets for their content becomes law.

Sept 2020 - The ACCC says Facebook will be "weakened" if itstops Australians from sharing news so the company can avoidpaying for content under proposed laws.

Dec 2020 - The News Media Bargaining Bill 2020 wasintroduced to Parliament with the intent to force major digitalplatforms – Google and Facebook – to pay Australian mediacompanies for use of news content.

Feb 2021 - Google strikes deals with media companiesincluding NewsCorp to pay for journalism.

Feb 2021 - The news media bargaining code, which hasbipartisan support, clears house of representatives.

Feb 2021 - Facebook blocks news feeds in Australia in asurprise escalation of the dispute with the government, wipingout pages from Australian state governments and charities aswell as from domestic and international news organisations.(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Kim Coghill)