Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook said Monday that it will block users in Australia from sharing news on Facebook and Instagram if a controversial law forcing tech giants like Facebook and rival Google to pay publishers to distribute portions of their content passes this fall.

Why it matters: This is Facebook's last-ditch effort to stop the law's enactment, which it says will harm publishers more than itself. The tech giant contends that the Australian law's broad payment terms are likely to end up requiring Facebook to overpay for a relatively modest amount of content, and the social network is also wary of setting a broad precedent.

Catch up quick: Regulators in Australia released a draft code of conduct on July 31 for a one-month consultation period that ended last Friday. The final legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament "shortly after conclusion of this consultation process," the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission says.

  • The consultation process has been ugly, and has featured a lot of testy statements back and forth from Google, Facebook and Australian lawmakers.

In an interview with Axios, Facebook's VP of global news partnerships Campbell Brown says that the company's product and engineering teams will spend the next few months building systems that will allow them to comply with the law by restricting news content from being shared on its platforms.

  • "We are looking at a number of things," Brown said. "A lot of this is in the [law's] code. We're trying to abide by how it's written."
  • "In some cases, it addresses publishers specifically. So we're looking at how we can look at publishers referenced in the code, what content of theirs is shared and go from there."

Driving the news: In a blog post Monday, Will Eason, Facebook's managing director for Australia & New Zealand, writes that the legislation "misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organizations the government is trying to protect."

  • Easton argues that regulators' solution to helping publishers build sustainable businesses online "is counterproductive" because Australian competition regulators wrongly presume that Facebook benefits most in its relationship with publishers, when, he argues, "in fact the reverse is true."
  • "News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us," he writes. He argues news being available on Facebook helps publishers expand their ad reach and sell more subscriptions.
  • "Over the first five months of 2020 we sent 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s News Feed back to Australian news websites at no charge — additional traffic worth an estimated $200 million to Australian publishers."

Between the lines: A source confirmed to Axios last week that the company likely won't be launching its new Facebook News Tab in Australia for the foreseeable future because of the battle Facebook is fighting with Australian regulators.

  • The News Tab, which Facebook is expanding globally, is a venue for Facebook to pay select publishers for their work. Payout contracts vary depending on the size and scope of the publisher, and nothing stops Facebook from changing the payout structure over time.

The big picture: If Australia adopts the law and it becomes a model for others around the world, publishers hope the approach would provide a significant boost to the news industry, especially local news, as it faces financial decline.

Yes, but: History shows that tech giants don't take well to this type of law, and would rather pull out of a country altogether than be forced to pay publishers on terms set by lawmakers.

  • Spain passed a similar measure in 2014 that ultimately caused Google News to leave the country.
  • France is considering a related law, one that would require Google to pay publishers for featuring "snippets," or small previews of their content, in search. Like Australia, France has ordered tech firms to negotiate with publishers or face being regulated.
  • The EU passed a sweeping copyright law in 2019 that would require its member countries to adopt rules that would force tech giants to pay publishers. Google has threatened to pull Google News from the EU if member states comply.

What's next: The law is part of a larger global effort to tilt the scales in favor of content creators and away from tech companies as the pandemic continues to eat at the advertising market, putting thousands of local and national media companies out of business.

  • But Brown says she doesn't see this type of action extending elsewhere.
  • "Australia is an outlier," she says. "This doesn't in any way impact how we think about news or our commitment to news."

Go deeper: Australia orders tech to pay media firms for access to content

Go deeper

State antitrust lawsuit will target Facebook's freeze-out of competitors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook's past moves cutting off competitors' access to its platform will be one target of the multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Facebook expected to be filed today, according to a person familiar with the case.

Why it matters: State attorneys general are looking to build a case that Facebook has illegally used a monopoly in social networking to elbow out competitors.

Scoop: Google to lift post-election political ad ban on Dec. 10

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Google informed its advertising partners on Wednesday that beginning Dec. 10, it will lift the post-election political ad ban that went into effect after polls closed on Nov. 3, according to an email obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The lift comes about a month ahead of two crucial Georgia runoff races that will determine control of the Senate.

Dec 9, 2020 - Podcasts

Breaking up Facebook

Facebook on Wednesday was hit with landmark antitrust lawsuits, with the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states suing to force the Big Tech giant to spin off its Instagram and WhatsApp units.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper in a special pop-up episode, with Axios tech reporter Ashley Gold and editor Scott Rosenberg.