MP criticises ‘bullying’ tech giant for undermining democracy

MP criticises 'bullying' tech giant for undermining democracy
Tom Tugendhat

His criticism comes after Facebook blocked Australians from seeing or posting any links to domestic or foreign outlets on its platforms. The move was in response to a planned law making the tech giant pay for news from other media shared on its sites.

Mr Tugendhat, Chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Commiitee, believes Facebook is censoring what people can see as part of a row over who pays for news stories that are lifted and reproduced from mainstream outlets.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday he said : ‘At the heart of this [argument] is people’s access to information.

“Make no mistake , we are witnessing a power shift as the likes of Facebook inveigle their way into our everyday lives.

“But in the process , democratic institutions are getting pushed ever further to the margins.

“Shutting down the news feeds on Australian accounts is also a sign of the vast power that such companies wield.”

The MP believes we are at ‘a pivotal moment’ in history and that the world must ‘defeat Facebook’s bullying.’

He pointed out that traditional media has editors and publishers who work within certain laws and can be taken to court.

“What redress do we have against the likes of Facebook and Twitter let alone Chinese-owned TikTok”, he added.

“The tech giants must be made accountable, subject to democratic control and pay the price when they get it wrong.” 

Mr Tugendhat said it was ‘vital we join the fight to protect our freedom’.

Facebook said on Tuesday that it had been reassured by recent discussions with the Government and has since restored news access.

“Going forward, the Government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to forced negotiation,” said Campbell Brown, Vice President of global news partnerships at Facebook.

“We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.”

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