Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Facebook bans all news articles having any connection with Australia (?!) over an Aussie "link tax" proposal


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Claire Miller writes for the NPR, that Facebook is banning all linking to news stories from Australian publications (like about “dictator Dan” and his lockdowns of Melbourne).  Lucas Matney shares a similar story on Techcrunch

Furthermore Australian users of Facebook may not link to any news stories at all.

This reminds me of the debate over the “link tax” in The EU Copyright Directive (and the “copyright disaster” it led to in Spain, leaving Google to stop sharing Spanish links in the country altogether for a while). 

This could apply to Australian stories about coronavirus.  A major rapid test kit will come from Australia soon, and this hampers the public’s learning about it.

All of this has to do with the Australian government essentially wanting to impose a “link tax” (for all practical purposes) on social media platforms making money on advertising.

I could not find the policy on Facebook, but here is an image of what happens if you try to link to an Australian news article.  

There have been sporadic debates and hyperlinking and embedding (especially) and copyright.  Usually, there are viewed as like term paper footnotes.  Fact can’t be copyrighted.  Yet news organizations will often have sentences to the effect “this story may not be rewritten”, or word to that effect.

Fox news apparently doesn’t allow linking to its articles, at least from Blogger, which gives a 403 Forbidden.

  Update:  Timcast has a major video explaining Google and Facebook's different business models.  Feb. 24.  Facebook has struck an interim voluntary "deal" and reversed its policy (New York Times). Jeff Horowitz et al gives some analysis in the WSJ and suggests that smaller channels like on Medium could make similar demands of Facebook.  

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