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The worldwide web as we know it may be ending

February 23, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.7%. 2 min read.

Over the last year, the worldwide web has started to look less worldwide.

In the process, these forces are not just upending the tech companies that built massive businesses on the promise of a global internet, but also the very idea of building platforms that can be accessed and used the same way by anyone anywhere in the world.

In response to Australia's effort to make it pay publishers, When Facebook stopped showing links from news outlets to its Australian users, users outside the country could also no longer access content from Australian news outlets.

While Facebook isn't the only tech company in the crosshairs of governments around the globe, it is perhaps more emblematic than any other Silicon Valley business of the promise of a global internet running up against various countries' laws.

Even in China, where the government's online censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall has locked Western tech companies out for decades, Facebook and Google both sought to make concessions to be allowed in (albeit with little success).

Aral says companies such as Facebook and Google will encounter a slippery slope if they start to exit every market that asks them to pay for its news, which would "severely limit" the content they can serve their global user base.

But the response to Facebook's move in Australia has shown that a more international effort to rein in Big Tech may be gathering momentum -- and with it, the potential for additional fracturing of how internet services function from one country to the next.

As his government faced off against Facebook last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a warning to the social media giant: what you do here may come back to hurt you in other countries.

"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," he said in a Facebook post.

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