Fury as Nick Clegg launches 'bizarre' rant about Facebook's war with Australia - blaming USERS for sharing news content and complaining social media giant would have faced a 'blank cheque'

 Nick Clegg was today blasted for a 'bizarre', 'patronising' and 'disingenuous' rant about Facebook's war with Australia over paying for news content.

The former deputy PM, now vice president of global affairs at the tech giant on a reputed seven-figure salary, moaned its position had been 'misunderstood' in an extraordinary blog posted on an official site.

Claiming to be telling the 'real' story of the standoff, Sir Nick said Facebook temporarily blocked the sharing of news stories in Australia because a new law would have left it signing a 'blank cheque' to publishers. 

He griped that the platform did not ask people to share news, comparing the situation to 'forcing carmakers to fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car, and letting the stations set the price'. 

CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally agreed to end the week-long blockade of news after Australian ministers significantly watered down the laws.

Commons Culture Committee chair Julian Knight was among those slating Sir Nick - who took the job and moved to California after being humiliatingly ejected from Parliament at the 2017 election - over his justification.

'Nick Clegg's bizarre statements remind me of the old saying if you are in a hole stop digging,' the Tory MP told MailOnline. 

'The idea that Facebook is some sort of innocent drawn into a row because of its pesky users posting news stories stretches credulity to breaking point. 

'To use an analogy of Clegg-like proportions, it's like blaming students for the 2010 Lib Dem manifesto promising to abolish tuition fees.'

Nick Clegg was today blasted for a 'bizarre', 'patronising' and 'disingenuous' rant about Facebook's war with Australia over paying for news content

Nick Clegg was today blasted for a 'bizarre', 'patronising' and 'disingenuous' rant about Facebook's war with Australia over paying for news content

The former deputy PM, now vice president of global affairs at the tech giant on a reputed seven-figure salary, complained its position had been 'misunderstood' in an extraordinary blog

The former deputy PM, now vice president of global affairs at the tech giant on a reputed seven-figure salary, complained its position had been 'misunderstood' in an extraordinary blog

Claiming to be telling the 'real' story of the standoff, Sir Nick said Facebook temporarily blocked the sharing of news stories in Australia because a new law would have left it signing a 'blank cheque' to publishers

Claiming to be telling the 'real' story of the standoff, Sir Nick said Facebook temporarily blocked the sharing of news stories in Australia because a new law would have left it signing a 'blank cheque' to publishers

Former culture committee chair Damian Collins told MailOnline the article was 'pretty disingenuous' and patronising 'even by his own high standards'. 

'He implied that Facebook is doing the news industry a favour. If you look what has happened in Australia, not only do Facebook and Google control 80 per cent of the advertising market, since 2006 ad revenues for newspapers have fallen by over 50 per cent,' Mr Collins said. 

'That has led to papers closing, journalists being laid off, it has created a real problem which is what the competition authorities are trying to address.

'Nick Clegg seems to neither understand nor care about anything like that.

'He completely ignores the fact that Facebook makes money by people engaging with content on its platform. 

'It sells advertising against that. And that includes sharing news articles.'

The Tory MP went on: 'Facebook has got a business model where it makes money out of other people's content and other people's data, and it doesn't think it should have to pay for it.

'The time has come when it does.' 

Facebook claims it will have the power to pick and choose who it pays for news after Australia's new media laws come into force, handing the company a powerful weapon in its fight over paid content. 

Campbell Brown, Facebook's vice president of news partnerships, said Australian ministers assured him today the site will be free 'to support the publishers we choose to' after new bargaining laws are voted into force later this week.

The rule could allow Facebook to ban companies demanding higher prices for their news while using cheaper rivals - a significant loophole in legislation that was designed to 'level the playing field' between tech firms and publishers.


It could also allow Facebook to block news outlets who are critical of the site, though the final deal has yet to be published.

The concessions will have global ramifications. The UK, EU and US are all considering whether to pass similar rules, but will now find it much harder to go beyond the precedent set in Australia. 

Writing online in a blog post titled The Real Story Of What Happened With News On Facebook In Australia, Sir Nick said that while it was 'understandable' that some news publishers 'see Facebook as a potential source of money to make up for their losses', it would not have been fair to be able to demand a 'blank cheque'.

'That's what the Australian law, as it was proposed, would have done,' Sir Nick said.

'Facebook would have been forced to pay potentially unlimited amounts of money to multinational media conglomerates under an arbitration system that deliberately misdescribes the relationship between publishers and Facebook — without even so much as a guarantee that it is used to pay for journalism, let alone support smaller publishers.'

He insisted: 'We neither take nor ask for the content for which we were being asked to pay a potentially exorbitant price. 

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is set to meet with Facebook executives over the tech giant's decision after Downing Street said it was 'concerned' about the situation.

Sir Nick said Facebook was 'more than willing to partner with news publishers' and pointed to its Facebook News service, which pays news publishers for their content and recently launched in the UK.

The former Lib Dem leader said Facebook was open to discussing greater regulation of the tech sector.

'There are legitimate concerns to be addressed about the size and power of tech companies, just as there are serious issues about the disruption the internet has caused to the news industry,' he said.  

Facebook has agreed to restore news pages in Australia after CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) forced MPs to water down new laws that will make the site pay for content

Facebook has agreed to restore news pages in Australia after CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) forced MPs to water down new laws that will make the site pay for content

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (right) hailed the news as a victory and said Facebook will negotiate with Australian publishers over their content

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (right) hailed the news as a victory and said Facebook will negotiate with Australian publishers over their content

Fury as Nick Clegg launches 'bizarre' rant about Facebook's war with Australia - blaming USERS for sharing news content and complaining social media giant would have faced a 'blank cheque' Fury as Nick Clegg launches 'bizarre' rant about Facebook's war with Australia - blaming USERS for sharing news content and complaining social media giant would have faced a 'blank cheque' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:00 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.