Loading articles...

Facebook's blocking news links in Australia 'irresponsible': Guilbeault

Last Updated Feb 19, 2021 at 10:15 am EDT

FILE - In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the Facebook logo on a screen at Nasdaq in Time Square, New York. Australia's Parliament will debate making Google and Facebook pay for news after a Senate committee on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 recommended no changes to the world-first draft laws. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

OTTAWA — Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says Facebook won’t intimidate Canada out of pushing online giants to pay Canadian media companies for content.

The company has blocked users in Australia from posting or seeing links to local or international news websites in protest of the Australian government’s plans to make social-media companies negotiate payments to publishers there.

Guilbeault calls Facebook’s move “highly irresponsible,” since it has restricted Australians’ access to important information such as crisis hotlines and news about forest fires.

But he says he’s carrying on with plans for a federal bill on compensation for news links, to be introduced this spring.

Google has reached a voluntary deal with Australian publishers, which Guilbeault says could be scrapped at any time if Google changes its mind.

Facebook says links users posted last year led to 5.1 billion visits to Australian publishers’ sites, traffic worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2021.

———

Facebook funds a fellowship that supports journalism positions at The Canadian Press.

The Canadian Press