Culture secretary Oliver Dowden to meet Facebook over Australia news ban, reports say

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has requested a meeting with Facebook after the social media giant banned news on its platform in Australia, according to reports.

Facebook began to take down news content from its platform in Australia on Thursday over proposed legislation which they said “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers.”

The ban doesn’t just affect Austalians’ access to home news but it has also had an effect on their access to international news and their exposure to potentially misleading news content.

The country’s new code would create an arbitration panel to set a binding price for news in situations where Google and Facebook do not reach deals with media businesses whose original journalism they link to.

According to The Times and The Daily Telegraph, the culture secretary will hold talks with Facebook later in the week over what Mr Dowden has called a “worrying development,” reported The Times. 

MP Julian Knight who is chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, said: “Facebook’s actions in Australia should be of great concern in the UK at a time when our own government is bringing forward legislation to regulate social media companies.

“Facebook has shown its absolute disregard for the public interest, being all too ready to use its power to further its own agenda.”

Mr Knight added that the committee was “deeply concerned” about combatting “the scourge of misinformation” and worried that trusted news sources should be promoted in order to do this.

There have been further concerns over whether or not Facebook users in the UK may face similar bans, should relationships grow sour between tech companies and publishers.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra, speaking to the PA news agency, said the UK faces “no immediate threat” of a similar situation developing. However, he did suggest that this could change in the future, should Australia and other countries set an example.

Additional reporting by agencies

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