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Canberra Today 11°/15° | Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Facebook angers enemies as it starts to unfriend news

Facebook has started moves to removes its news tab. (AP PHOTO)

By Tess Ikonomou in Canberra

Australian Facebook users who rely on social media as their main source of news will need to start looking elsewhere from Tuesday.

Meta will start shutting down the Facebook news tab with the process expected to be completed within a few days.

The move by the technology giant, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has been criticised by the federal government and media outlets because of its decision to stop paying publishers for their content.

However, a Meta spokeswoman said there would be no change to publishers’ ability to use Facebook.

“They can continue to benefit from our free tools and products which they can voluntarily use should they want to,” she said.

“We hope the government sees the many benefits our free services provide to publishers and we’ll continue to engage with them on this topic.”

Meta previously announced it will not enter into new deals to pay Australian news publishers for their content once current agreements expire this year.

There are growing concerns Meta will reduce or block the amount of news people can see on Facebook and Instagram.

Assistant Competition Minister Andrew Leigh slammed the decision as an “abrogation of their responsibility” and pointed to the penalties under the news media bargaining code which the government could use against companies.

“It is not too much to ask one of the world’s biggest multinationals to make a modest contribution to the Australian news media in order to keep a highly functioning public debate and people making decisions based on good information,” he told ABC’s RN on Monday.

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