A new article on Forbes
reports that Australia is engaged in talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the country's Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in an interview on Friday, as the social media platform faces widespread anger over its decision to ban all news content in Australia in response to new legislation that would force the company to pay news publishers.
In an interview with the Nine Network, Frydenberg said he and Zuckerberg have been messaging each other, and he wants to see "if there's a pathway forward." On planned discussions, the treasurer said he plans to "hear Mark [Zuckerberg] out," adding, "if he puts some ideas to us and they're reasonable, then I will talk."
Fryndenberg called Facebook banning all news content in Australia "outrageous" and said that he made it clear to the platform he was disappointed by the lack of an "advance notice of what they were doing." He added that the Australian government would push forward with its proposed legislation. This is how Fryndenberg summed up events when asked on Thursday:
"I think subtlety is not their schtick if you like. It was pretty bad what we saw yesterday."
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd argued the proposed legislation would entrench the power of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp monopoly on Australian media:
"The problem with the government's current response to the challenges of the digital media marketing code is that it seeks to solve one problem ... by enhancing the power of the existing monopoly - that's Murdoch."
This all follows Wednesday's events, when Facebook announced that it would block users in Australia from accessing news, citing the proposed legislation. The platform didn't exactly cover itself in glory when it followed through. The Facebook pages of several Australian governments, health agencies, and non-profits got blocked - just days before the country was due to start its vaccine roll-out with thousands of people relying on the platform to gain access to important information and advice during the pandemic.