UK minister to meet Facebook over news ban

·2-min read

The UK's culture secretary is tipped to meet with Facebook executives over concerns sparked by the social media company's Australian news ban.

The technology giant began removing news content from its platform in Australia last Thursday over a proposed law that would compel internet firms to pay news organisations.

The Daily Telegraph and The Times report British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will hold talks with the company this week, with The Times quoting a source as saying Dowden regards the social media company's move as a "worrying development".

The ban not only affects people in Australia accessing news by the country's publishers and broadcasters via Facebook, but also their access to international news content.

The new code would create an arbitration panel to set a binding price for news in situations where Google and Facebook do not reach deals with media businesses whose original journalism they link to.

In announcing its news ban, Facebook said the proposed legislation "fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers".

Media giant News Corp has struck a deal for Google to pay it for news as amended legislation to create the code is debated.

British MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has said Facebook's actions in Australia "should be of great concern in the UK at a time when our own government is bringing forward legislation to regulate social media companies".

"Facebook has shown its absolute disregard for the public interest, being all too ready to use its power to further its own agenda," he said on Thursday.

A social media expert has warned news accessed by Facebook's UK users could be hit by similar bans if current relations between big tech and publishers turn sour in the future.