Facebook to block Australian users from viewing or sharing news

Facebook has announced that it will block Australian users from sharing or viewing news content amid a dispute over a proposed law.

Australia wants tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay for the content reposted from news outlets.

The social media giant said the proposed law "fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers".

Australia previously called Facebook's threats of such a ban "misconceived".

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it drew up the new rules to "level the playing field" between the tech giants and publishers.

The Australian government says it will put the legislation to a vote in the coming weeks.

Facebook announced its new policy in a blog post on Wednesday, saying the proposed legislation had left it "facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia".

"With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter," it said.

Under its new rules, Facebook said Australian users would not be able read or share news content on the platform, while Australian news publishers would be restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook pages.

"Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted," it said.

Australian media reported that the ban appears to have already come into effect, with users reporting that they are unable to see news articles on their Facebook pages.

The American Economic Liberties Project, a Washington-based anti-monopoly group, criticised the move.

"By censoring Australian publishers to maintain its advertising revenue, Facebook has shown it is a threat to democracies worldwide," research director Matt Stoller said in a statement.

The announcement by Facebook came hours after Google agreed to pay Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for content from news sites across its media empire.