Facebook, Twitter and Google believe they have a divine right to interfere with the affairs of the entire world.
Thus far, that divine right has been backed with the divine strength of the US military.
Facebook has blocked Australians from accessing and sharing news in protest at a new law which would have forced the site to pay for the content it hosts.
Furious Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the move shows tech companies ‘think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them’ while others branded it ‘an assault on a sovereign nation’ and an ‘abuse of power’.
The backlash quickly went international, with one Democrat politician in the US saying it shows ‘Facebook is not compatible with democracy‘ while the hashtag ‘Delete Facebook’ quickly began trending on rival site Twitter.
Australians searching Facebook for news today were instead shown notifications saying ‘no posts’ were available. Attempting to share news links brought up a message saying ‘this post can’t be shared’.
But the shock move also stopped some government messages being shared, including from emergency services providing essential information on Covid, fires, and help for victims of domestic violence.
Charities, foodbanks and at least one missing persons page were also caught up in the ban.
Facebook, by far the world’s largest social network, rode to battle in Australia amid fears the idea of payment for content could catch on elsewhere – with the UK and EU working on similar laws and policymakers in the US showing interest.
Prime Minister Morrison said: ‘Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.’
‘These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.
‘They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.
‘We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament.’
Australian PM Scott Morrison
David Cicilline, a Democrat congressman and chair of the antitrust committee, added: ‘Threatening to bring an entire country to its knees to agree to Facebook’s terms is the ultimate admission of monopoly power.’
Matt Stoller, of the American Economic Liberties Project, said: ‘Facebook deleted huge amounts of important content on a critical piece of social infrastructure in order to threaten a democratic society’s sovereign power.
‘The details are complex, the underlying power play is simple.’
The move comes as Australian politicians debate a law which would force big tech companies to compensate news outlets for stories they host on their platforms.
The law – the News Media Bargaining Code – was being debated by parliament this week, with ministers voting to approve it on Wednesday night.
The bill now returns to the Senate for final approval, where it is expected to pass quickly.
When it passes, it will become the first such law requiring tech giants to compensate publishers for hosting their content.
Facebook and Google have been leading opposition to it, saying it is ‘unworkable’ and unfairly targets their businesses.
At one point Google had threatened to quit Australia entirely if the law passed, but has since softened its stance and begun striking deals with news outlets.
These tech companies are a threat to the sovereignty of every country on earth.
They should have been banned a long time ago. Every country should have insisted on having its own internet economy, just like it has its own economy of everything else.
Now, as Vladimir Putin recently teleconferenced to Davos, these companies are competing with states for control over countries.