The Society of Publishers in Asia registers concern with Facebook’s removal of news in Australia

The Society of Publishers in Asia registers with concern Facebook’s decision to remove news content from its platform in Australia in response to proposed government regulations.

We find it troubling that Facebook – which has not found a meaningful solution to prevent the dissemination of harmful misinformation across its platform due to its commitment to free speech – is now removing content from publishers that produce real, fact-based, and important news.

Australia’s proposed regulation would require Facebook and Google to pay publishers for the content that appears on their platforms.  We appreciate that the situation is complex and requires continuous dialogue to find a creative solution so publishers, the public and technology companies are happy, but we are certain that Facebook’s removal of news is not a constructive reaction.

In the long run, we believe this move may actually harm Facebook and help publishers, as Australians interested in current affairs spend less time on the platform and increasingly visit news websites directly. But in the immediate term, because of Facebook’s dominance as a distribution platform, the blockage hurts publishers and citizens by decreasing access to news.