Minister Oliver Dowden seeks Facebook talks over ‘worrying’ news blockade

Sophia Sleigh
·2-min read
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Oliver Dowden is seeking a meeting with executives from the tech company

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The Culture Secretary is expected to hold talks with Facebook after the social media giant blocked news content in Australia.

Oliver Dowden is seeking a meeting with executives from the tech company after it started removing news content from the platform in Australia last Thursday.

The move by Facebook was in response to a proposed Australian law that would compel internet firms to pay news organisations for linking to their journalism.

Mr Dowden will reportedly hold talks this week, with sources telling The Times that he had described the news blockade as a “worrying development”. It has prevented people in Australia accessing news via Facebook from local and international sources.

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

The law would create a panel to set a price for news content if Google and Facebook do not reach deals with media businesses.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hinted that he supports moves to make Facebook pay for news.

Asked on Times Radio if Britain should follow the lead of Australia and Canada, which is planning similar laws, Mr Hancock said: “I have very strong views on this. All I can say is I’m a great admirer of Australia and Canada. This is a very important matter and one that I have no doubt the Culture Secretary will be looking at very closely.”

Mr Dowden has said it is time to even the playing field.

Last week MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said Facebook had “shown its absolute disregard for the public interest, being all too ready to use its power to further its own agenda.”

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