While the United States is dealing with a major winter storm and the typical political slap-fighting we usually concern ourselves with, Big Tech has made a very big move on the other side of the world.
Facebook has canceled Australia. No, that’s not really an exaggeration.
National governments: WE ARE IN CHARGE OF YOU.
Big Tech: laughs in global monopoly power
— Rachel Bovard (@rachelbovard) February 17, 2021
The backstory on this is Facebook seeking to stop the passage of a new law in Australia which would allow news creators to negotiate compensation from tech giants for the use of their work. The general thought is that Facebook enjoys all this free content on their platform and then monetizes it. That’s helped turn these Big Tech companies into some of the richest corporations on the planet, giving them immense power. Australia is seeking to spread the wealth around, so to speak, making Facebook owe something for their non-original content they profit off of.
In response, Facebook is seeking to pressure Australia to back down. They’ve done so by blocking all news sharing from the country, including things like weather, traffic reports, and emergency declarations. They’ve essentially canceled Australia in an attempt to strong arm a sovereign nation into not passing a law. Regardless of what one may think of the proposed law in question, private tech companies having that kind of power should scare everyone.
Australia’s Prime Minister responded with a pledge to not back down per The New York Post.
“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on his own Facebook page. “We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code.”
Meanwhile, I’m not really that sure there’s any good guys here. Facebook is obviously a greedy company that wants to have people provide free content for its platform. In turn, they can go make billions off of it without paying just compensation for others’ work. Meanwhile, the Australian government is doing this to fund a “diverse” media sphere, which is just woke speak for propping up failing, left-wing industries. Australia’s government has also forced massive, oppressive lock downs over the last year so they are hardly a bastion of liberty. Maybe we should just let them fight?
But on the more macro scale, Big Tech companies having this kind of power to strong arm anyone, including a large country, who dares to try to take a slice of their profits (one which seems kind of fair, to be honest) is an issue, and it’s only going to get worse.