Facebook said users and publishers in Australia won’t be able to put news on its site.

The announcement Wednesday was in response to Australia’s proposed law to make social media companies pay news outlets for their content. The decision means that Australian publishers can’t share or post content to their official Facebook pages. 

Publishers outside the country can still post content on Facebook, but Australians will be unable to view or share it. Facebook users globally will not be able to view or share news stories from Australian publishers. 

In a blog post, Facebook said the country’s policies would have a detrimental effect on publishers.

“It has left us 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,” Facebook said. “With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.” 

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Facebook is cutting off news from Australia. (Photo: USA TODAY)

In a separate blog post, Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news, said Wednesday that the proposed law fails to recognize the “fundamental nature” of the relationship between the site and publishers.

“From finding new readers to getting new subscribers and driving revenue, news organizations wouldn’t use Facebook if it didn’t help their bottom lines,” Brown said.

However, the leader of one group has publicly taken exception with Facebook’s decision. The social network’s action severely restricts content for Australians, impacting not only news sites, but government health, emergency services and police pages that share crucial information such as COVID-19 updates, Elaine Pearson, the director of the Human Rights Watch Australia, tweeted Wednesday.

 “This is an alarming and dangerous turn of events. Cutting off access to vital information in the dead of the night is unconscionable,” Pearson said. “Mark Zuckerberg has publicly stated that he doesn’t think it’s a right for a private company to censor the news and Human Rights Watch agrees. We call on Facebook to immediately lift these restrictions.”

Facebook’s decision came on the same day Google said it would pay publishers for content, striking a three-year deal with News Corp. to run its global content on Google News Showcase, according to The Associated Press. 

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Google reached a similar deal with Australian publisher Seven West Media and is close to an agreement with Nine Entertainment, the AP reported. 

“Everything that I have heard from the parties, in both the news media business and in terms of digital platforms, is that these are generous deals,” said Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

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