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Meta to stop paying for news content in Australia

STORY: Meta Platforms has said it will stop paying Australian news outlets for content that appears on Facebook.

The decision pits it against the Australian government and a 2021 law that forced internet giants to strike licensing deals.

The announcement has angered Canberra, and Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland on Friday slammed the Facebook parent firm's decision:

“"The announcement by Meta today, is an abrogation of responsibility to Australia's news media sector. Australian journalists provide one of the most important public goods in our democracy and Australian news media publishers deserve to be fairly compensated for the investments they make in that."

News publishers and governments such as Australia maintain that Facebook unfairly benefits in terms of advertizing revenue when links to news articles appear on its platform.

Meta will now discontinue a tab on Facebook that promotes news in Australia and the U.S., it said in a statement, adding that it canceled the news tab last year in the UK, France and Germany.

The statement added:

“We will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers."

Facebook's decision takes the debate between the government and major social media corporations back to square one, communications expert Peter Lewis told Reuters:

“They never considered the value of the news, but they set up Facebook News, almost as a fig leaf to say, we don't accept that there's an inherently more valuable quality of information in news content, but we'll give you money anyway because we're setting up this thing called Facebook News. Now they've taken down Facebook News, and now they're going to say I told you, no one uses it. No one ever thought it would be."

While no deal values have been revealed, Australian news outlets say the annual value to the sector of Facebook's deals is A$70 million, or about $45 million.

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