Channel 9

Karl Stefanovic and Leila McKinnon on the ‘Today’ show Thursday morning

Television presenter Karl Stefanovic blasted Facebook after it banned news publishers’ content from being shared on its platform in response to a proposed law in which social media giants would pay news outlets for their content.

Speaking on the ‘Today’ show on Thursday morning, the host made it clear he’s not a fan of Facebook, which he believes is “picking a fight” by not allowing Australian users to “read or share local or international news content on their news feeds”. 

“Are people really missing it? Facebook is like… you know, who cares? I mean, they are picking a fight,” Stefanovic said.

“I just think it is going to bring more attention to a story that people didn’t really care about, and now they care. So, up yours, Facebook. Stick it in your neck.” 

Earlier in the program Stefanovic’s co-host Leila McKinnon said Facebook’s action “feels more like a middle finger” than something done with “a heavy heart”. 

TV and radio host Ben Fordham told McKinnon that Facebook’s move will likely drive users back to the original websites where news is published, as well as to the news outlets’ own apps.  

“There is going to be more activity on websites, so instead of people accessing ‘Today’ show material through the ‘Today’ show Facebook page, that will be going to Channel 9 websites and the ‘Today’ show’ website,” he said.

As of Thursday, Facebook had stripped links and videos from Australia’s biggest news brands, such as the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo News, BuzzFeed and  Facebook has also removed HuffPost Australia’s Facebook content. 

Lifestyle brands, such as New Idea and Marie Claire, are also affected. The Bureau of Meteorology, MS Research and the satire site Betoota Advocate are also part of the ban. 

Facebook also appears to have banned its own page from Australian viewers:

Those overseas, meanwhile, are not able to access content from Australia on Facebook, either. 

The decision is in response to a news media bargaining code that would make big tech companies, including Google and Facebook, pay news publishers for their content. The Australian federal government has said it plans to put the legislation, which effectively forces Google and Facebook to strike deals with media companies or have fees set for them, to a vote in the coming weeks.

Facebook said the proposed legislation “fundamentally misunderstands” the relationship between the social media platform and publishers, arguing that news outlets voluntarily post their article links on the platform.

With reporting by Carly Williams and Reuters. 

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