Facebook to let Aussies post links to news sites again

Originally published at: Facebook to let Aussies post links to news sites again | Boing Boing


A link is just an address. The news or other site is under no obligation to provide the requested file. Forcing linkers to pay is like forcing map makers to pay when people use their maps to go to a movie theater. It is the job of the people providing the file to figure out how to monetize people people that show up or request access, either through a paywall or advertising.


I’m all about laughing at governments trying to impose stupid “link taxes,” but Matt Stoller is making me stop and think about how the press coverage of this might be missing something key. LIke, what if this is less about a “link tax” and more about anti-monopoly activity?




It kills me to have to say Facebook was in the right here, but they were, and Tim Berners-Lee’s comment from the other day succinctly spells out exactly why.

Australia was essentially asserting that anyone might be subject to paying fees for posting links on the internet.

That’s right – for posting links on the internet. Let that sink in.

This law was written by Rupert Murdoch for the benefit of Rupert Murdoch, prioritized above the basic functionality of the internet and world wide web.

Whenever I get particularly annoyed about the state of things here in the USA, in a weird way it’s kind of nice to be able to look at Australia, or the UK, and know – at least it’s not just us.


While Facebook is a cancer and is involved in all sorts of shady shit, prosecute and/or regulate them based on that. Don’t charge them a fee for sharing links, which is a basic function of the Internet and has been since HTTP was invented.

Especially since this ‘link tax’ law was at the behest of another shady-as-fuck corporate vulture.


Liber Faciei delendus est?

I do wonder why this exact scenario keeps playing out over and over, though:

Government: <Big tech company> can no longer host/link to <category of content> unless they pay for the privilege!

<Big tech company>: Fair enough. We’ll stop hosting/linking to <category of content> right away.

Government: *shocked Pikachu face*


mood GIF


It’s terrifying how much power Zuck has. Regardless of whether the Australian government had created a sensible policy, the takeaway from this for me is that Zuck simply flipped a switch and blackmailed a sovereign nation into doing what he wanted.


The lovely folks at Juice Media will be posting one of their Honest Government Adverts about this Murdoch-frotting shitfuckery in a day or so. Their channel is over here:


I don’t agree that complying with a proposed law (which had already passed the House and was expected to pass in the Senate) is blackmail. They demonstrated what compliance looked like, and the government and the corporations that were pushing it didn’t like the outcome. The only issue was the overly aggressive filters catching things that shouldn’t have been included, but they were continuing to restore things that had been incorrectly flagged.


On the topic of ‘compliance’, blocking food bank websites and official government news feeds from reaching citizens, during a pandemic, surely was simply a practical demonstration and not at all any sort of use of monopoly position to browbeat people. I’m sure they were entirely on side of the angels with that one. (We don’t have to assume that just because one side is bad that the other one’s good)

One thing I don’t see discussed in any of this is the degree to which content is scraped by major services without really driving any traffic to them. For instance, Google’s search auto-populating answers from web articles which then gives audiences information, but the click to the source never happens.


Shouldn’t it be liber facierum?

I know the face part is singular in English but if it were rendered into the genitive like your example it would definitely be plural.

1 Like

It’s a stupid law. I can’t believe I’m siding with Facebook. I know what the Ozzie government was trying to do. They are trying to save journalism. Unfortunately, what they would have ended up doing is giving money to Rupert Murdock. There’s no way smaller media organizations or even journalists themselves would have won out.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good solution either.


Er, Rupert Murdoch, I’m pretty sure. Definitely sure it’s not quite the same thing!


It was all a theatrical distraction to draw attention away from the alleged rape and criminal cover up that occured in parliament a week before our last election and only came to light last week.

Sigh, this is frustrating. I’m 100% on board with link taxes being as dumb as dumb gets, or even dumber. EU-style link taxes are the worst. The entire internet is predicated on links, yada yada.

At the same time, this law is not, strictly speaking, a link tax. I posted a link about this already, and it links to the law in question twice, but here it is again: https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/ems/r6652_ems_2fe103c0-0f60-480b-b878-1c8e96cf51d2/upload_pdf/JC000725.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

It is very specifically targeted at companies like Facebook and Google which carry an inordinate amount of power. It is first and foremost about Facebook and Google excerpting the entire contents of news article, eliminating the entire purpose of a link–which is that people can visit the linked-to site–and not even giving any hint of metrics or reporting to the “linked to” (really, excerpted) site.

It may not do that perfectly well, but it is first and foremost an anti-monopoly law, not a link tax. People posting links on Facebook aren’t going to trigger anything, unless Facebook uses those links to retrieve data and display it, etc.

I’m really tired of the overwhelming power Google and Facebook have over everything, but I guess I’m in the minority. Oh well.

I feel my knee jerking now, give it a second… link taxes are bad!

There we go.


Shucks, here I was all jealous of Australians. I think that Facebook, not to mention humanity as a whole, would be better if Facebook had no links to news at all. Can you imagine if people got their news from literally anywhere else? Sounds pretty sweet to me.

And there is a reason why Facebook and Google responded differently. One has a better monopoly.

1 Like

Romanes eunt domus.

1 Like