On February 16th, I wrote that Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code threatened to splinter the internet. On February 17th, the splintering arrived: Google cut a deal with News Corp. that will ensure its services continue to be provided in Australia, and Facebook walked away from the bargaining table and began preventing people from sharing news links from Australian publishers around the world.
I think Facebook basically did the right thing, and Google basically did the wrong thing, even though Google had a much tougher call to make. Today, let’s talk about why the tech giants made the decisions that they did, why Australia’s shakedown is rotten, and what’s likely to happen next. (If you didn’t read my piece on the subject, it offers a lot of useful context for what follows.)