Australian news publishers complained that Facebook and Google were taking advantage of them by linking to their content. So the Australian government proposed a “link tax” in which Facebook and Google would have to pay Australian publishers for every link to them on those services. Facebook warned in September 2020 that if the Australian government moved forward with the link tax, it would stop allowing links to Australian publishers. The company has now done exactly that. So you would expect publishers to be happy that Facebook is no longer taking advantage of them by linking to their content.
Except they’re not happy. And even American politicians are lashing out at Facebook, accusing it of threatening Australia and democracy itself. Mike Masnick of TechDirt does his best to explain this confusing situation and the equally confusing reaction to it, including why people are also mad at Google for cutting a linking deal with News Corp (after threatening to pull out of Australia entirely), which was the point of the “tax” in the first place.
Many people are angry at Facebook for shutting off not just links to Australian news sites but also links to a number of others as well, including government websites and, temporarily, its own page. That could be due to a non-discrimination rule that requires Facebook and Google to treat all sites the same, or Facebook may simply have done a lousy job of blocking sites.
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, opposes the link tax in the strongest terms, calling it a fundamental threat to the Web.