Australia and Facebook hold talks as PM Scott Morrison vows not to bend to ‘threat’

Facebook held talks with Australia on Friday, as the two sides seek to reach an agreement over a law that would force tech companies to pay media companies for content, with PM Scott Morrison vowing to not bend to a “threat.”

On Thursday, Facebook blocked users in Australia from being able to access or share news content on the site in response to the proposed legislation, sparking condemnation from the Australian government and international criticism from politicians and media officials.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke on Friday, and the discussions are expected to continue throughout the weekend, as there are still “remaining issues” and both teams agreed to “work through them immediately.” 

The talks come as Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared he would not be willing to back down or bend to “some sort of threat” from a social media company.

I would just say to Facebook, this is Australia. If you want to do business here, you work according to our rules. That is a reasonable proposition.

Frydenberg said he was clear during the meeting that “Australia remains committed to implementing” the new law. He reiterated this in an interview with Sky News on Friday morning, declaring that “this is all about leveling the playing field, protecting public interest journalism and ensuring journalists are rewarded for generating original content."

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Facebook has refuted the Australian government’s position and argued that the legislation “fundamentally misunderstands” the relationship that social media companies and media organizations have. 

In a statement, Facebook said that the proposed law leaves the company “facing a stark choice: Attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.”

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