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Analysis: How Facebook managed to 'unfriend' Australia while Google came out on top

February 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 23.8%. 2 min read.

Facebook and Google are taking vastly different approaches to an escalating battle in Australia that could reset the relationship between tech and media.

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Facebook and Google are taking vastly different approaches to an escalating battle in Australia that could reset the relationship between tech and media.

In the face of a proposed media code that would force Big Tech to pay publishers for news shared on their platforms, Facebook (FB) has decided that it would rather just stop people from finding such content on its service altogether.

Facebook's stunning announcement suggests that the company is willing to stand up to Australia where Google has backed down.

So far, though, it appears that the search giant might be playing the winning hand: Facebook's move has been met with scorn in Australia, while Google's strategy has been cheered by media organizations and politicians alike.

"We want to thank Google for the very constructive discussions that they have been having with stakeholders," Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters during a press conference Thursday, where he blasted Facebook for its ban.

Facebook and Google have tussled with publishers for years over how they display their content, with media companies arguing the tech giants should pay them for the privilege.

"These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them," wrote Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison perhaps pointedly, in a post on Facebook that criticized the company's decision to "unfriend" his country.

There was already a "deterrent effect of this law on investment in the Australian news industry," Simon Milner, Facebook's vice president of public policy for Asia Pacific, told lawmakers, citing a recent decision from his team to launch a news product in the United Kingdom in which it pays publishers for access to content, instead of Australia.

Google, at least, was inking deals — and the treasurer said Facebook had been "relatively close" to doing the same.

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