‘Arrogant’ and ‘wrong’: Australia slams Facebook’s move to block news as unnecessary and heavy-handed – CNBC

Various news sites seen on Facebook on Feb. 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.

Robert Cianflone | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Australian government has slammed Facebook’s decision to block users in the country from all news content on its platform — a move that ended up affecting access to several government sites.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Facebook’s move “arrogant” and “disappointing,” while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was “wrong” and “unnecessary.”

The social media company on Wednesday announced its decision to ban Australian users from viewing and sharing news content. It came ahead of an expected decision by the Australian parliament to pass a new media bill that will require online platforms like Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for displaying and linking to their content.

“Facebook was wrong. Facebook’s actions were unnecessary. They were heavy-handed and they will damage its reputation here in Australia,” Frydenberg said at a media briefing on Thursday.

Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.

Scott Morrison

Australian Prime Minister

“Their decision to block Australians’ access to government sites — be they about support through the pandemic, mental health, emergency services, the Bureau of Meteorology — were completely unrelated to the media code, which is yet to pass through the Senate,” he said.

Frydenberg’s comments were later followed by strong criticism from Morrison.