The ongoing media row between the government of Australia and the Big Tech firms of Silicon Valley have continued to escalate over the past few weeks. The debate has made global news headlines as the country decides on how to progress with its decision on whether large media sites such as Facebook and Google should pay to link to smaller sites’ content.
People from around the world have been following the story since the decision to be made by the Australian government on the amount of control and say independent companies such as the Big Tech firms should have in the governance of Australia’s online sphere will set a precedent likely to be implemented around the globe.
Since Thursday 18th February 2021 however, the ongoing row has seen a rapid escalation from Facebook who blocked Australian users from accessing its media content in an overnight decision from the USA based company. The sudden and extreme move from the American Big Tech firm left Australian’s aghast as they woke up on Thursday to find their social media content scrolling experience significantly altered.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the move “heavy-handed” and accused the Silicon Valley giant of “bullying democracy”. In an ironic turn of events, the Prime Minister used Facebook to release his statement condemning the social media site in question.
In an immediate response to the blackout Morrison said the action confirmed “the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them”. He went on to describe how “Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing. They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.”