Facebook has inadvertently stumbled on a pretty good idea for Australian users, and like a lot of accidentally good idea that come from big/terrible companies, Facebook seems to think this is more of threat than a nice treat. This comes from Variety, which explains that it all started because of a new law in Australia that is designed to force companies like Google and Facebook to pay media companies for the privilege of sharing their content. The exact logistics of how that would work are unclear, but the idea is that Facebook and Google are benefitting from stuff that is produced by other people when they recycle content from other websites in their news feeds, so Google and Facebook should have to pay to do that—especially since digital media is perpetually on the brink of death, and it’s definitely somewhat Facebook’s fault.
So it’s hard to resist the urge to side with Australia on this, because Facebook sucks, but we haven’t even gotten to the unintentionally good idea. Apparently, rather than engage with this new law—which Facebook says is “based on a false premise and creates a one-sided, binding commercial process”—Facebook is just going to remove the ability to share news stories on the site (and Instagram) in Australia. Now, you might be reading this very article because of a link on Facebook, so that’s obviously great, but entirely banning news stories would mean no more fake news, no more racist relatives getting all of their “facts” from shady Facebook sources, and no more giving Facebook the power to choose (either through algorithms or whatever) what information deserves to reach a wide audience. It’s like if the president of vegetables said, “Fine, if you don’t want to eat broccoli, then we’re going to stop making it taste so bad. Then you’ll learn!”
No, please don’t make broccoli taste better! And please don’t take away one of the things that makes Facebook such a terrible goddamn website! What will we do? Ha ha ha. Anyway, it seems like neither side is willing to budge on this, since Facebook can do whatever it wants and Australia doesn’t really give a crap about an American company that… just does whatever it wants, so we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.