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Facebook Draws Global Criticism Of Its Action To 'Bully' Australia

Facebook Draws Global Criticism Of Its Action To 'Bully' Australia
According to analysts, the prospect of a much wider showdown between the world's biggest social media platform Facebook and the governments and news organizations fighting to check the dominating power of the tech giant increased after the move by the company to block users in Australia from sharing news – a move that has been rebuked by lawmakers around the world.
Facebook's actions have been slammed by elected officials and media publishers in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States. The company’s decision was described by many as being anti-competitive as critics reiterated the importance of a regulatory crackdown on the company and other tech giants with dominant market power.
"It is one of the most idiotic but also deeply disturbing corporate moves of our lifetimes," Julian Knight, the lawmaker who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in Britain's parliament, told broadcaster Sky News.
In order to ensure that "trusted news sources" are prompted by platforms such as Facebook, a pending legislation aimed at regulating social media companies by the UK lawmakers, Knight said in a statement to CNN.
"This action — this bully boy action — that [Facebook has] undertaken in Australia will I think ignite a desire to go further amongst legislators around the world," he added during an interview with Reuters.
That sentiment was further echoed by David Cicilline, a Democratic congressman from Rhode Island who chairs the House Antitrust Subcommittee. He said that "if it is not already clear," Facebook's actions in Australia demonstrate that the company "is not compatible with democracy."
"Threatening to bring an entire country to its knees to agree to Facebook's terms is the ultimate admission of monopoly power," he said in a post on Twitter.
"Facebook's actions are highly irresponsible and have jeopardized the safety of the Australian people", said Canadian heritage minister Steven Guilbeault on Twitter. "We will continue to move forward to put in place fair legislation between news media and web giants," he added.
Publishers were also very critical of the actions of the social media platform which along with Alphabet’s Google, dominates the global digital advertising business. Governments were urged to reign in Facebook's influence by the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV).
"It is high time that governments around the world limit the market power of gatekeeper platforms," said Dietmar Wolff, general manager of BDZV. "The fact that a platform simply shuts down pages at will in order to build up political pressure shows where the problem with the American network monopoly lies on the internet," said Wolff.
Last Wednesday, Facebook decided to prevent all Australians from finding or sharing news from local and international outlets on its platform in response to a proposed new law in Australia that will force tech companies to pay news publishers for using their content on their digital platforms. 
It has been years that publishers have been fighting with Facebook and Google over how the former’s content should be displayed on the later’s platforms.   

Christopher J. Mitchell

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