Saturday, 27 February 2021

The curious case of Facebook and Australia

Techdirt claims it's one of the last truly independent tech sites - Wired is certainly straight leftist, like the Register.  This, via haiku, is on the FB situation.

I've been somewhat amazed at the response to Facebook's decision in Australia to first block news links, in response to a dangerous new law, and then to cave in and cut deals with news organizations to pay for links. 
Most amazing to me is that otherwise reasonable people in Australia got very angry at me, insisting that I was misrepresenting the tax. They keep insisting it's not a tax, and that it's a "competition" response to "unfair bargaining power." 
Except, as I've discussed previously, there's nothing to bargain over when you should never have to pay for links. The links are free. There's no bargaining imbalance, because there's nothing to bargain over. And, it's clearly a tax if the only end result is that Google and Facebook have to fork over money because the government tells them to. That's... a tax.

At this point, we can go one of two ways. If you're solely a reader here, then you might like to read on at Techdirt about the toing and froing between the giants and the govt in a battle royal over money.

If you're a reader/blogger though who uses links, you might be more vitally concerned about that aspect, because it's establishing a precedent, one FB may well be interested in allowing, even if it costs them some moolah at this stage. The precedent must never become established.

If I run a link at our site, essentially I'm advertising that site for nothing, it's how we've always run it and I for one put in many links. However, once establish pay for links and it means I'm up for money every time I link to your site.  There is no way I'll do that, not because I won't pay a certain amount per month for my online services, I do, but because of the security implications - I'm not giving anyone my credit or Paypal details - what, over a link?  For 20p or something per link?

It will certainly kill off many sites, it's quite unwieldy and involves litigation, and lawyers don't do these things for free, which in turn frightens off pundits, which I believe was the idea all along.

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