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Australia halts advertising campaign on Facebook

The Australian government has stopped its advertising campaign on Facebook after the social media giant blocked users in the country from viewing or sharing news content on the platform, local media said on Monday.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, who oversees public expenditure, said the ban will be extended across the government, public broadcaster ABC News reported.

“My expectation is that we will pull back from advertising while they undertake this type of terrible activity of pulling down sites inappropriately, seeking to exert power or influence over our democratic systems,” ABC quoted Birmingham as saying.

“We won’t tolerate that, we will be standing firm on the legislation and looking at all those advertising points,” he added.

Earlier on Sunday, Health Minister Greg Hunt also said his department will not be using Facebook for advertising campaigns.

The Australian government allocated around $42 million for digital advertising in the current fiscal budget. Around one-quarter of all online advertising expenditure in the country goes to Facebook, according to the report.

The government move came after Facebook on Thursday blocked users in Australia from viewing or sharing news content on the platform, pushing back against a proposed law that will force tech giants to pay for news content.

Facebook’s action is also seen as a split from Google, which was also opposed to the proposed regulation — even threatening to cancel its services in the country — but has instead opted to sign agreements with news outlets.

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