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Big Tech in Trouble: Australia Puts Facebook on Notice

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The uptake of digital advertising is on the rise in Australia, making the country an attractive place to be for ad-funded companies such as Facebook (FB). But Australia’s crackdown on big tech companies amid cries of anticompetitive practices means Facebook isn’t at ease in the country.

Australia’s review of big tech companies found Facebook and Google (GOOGL) wielded too much power in media and advertising. Therefore, Australia has proposed creating a special antitrust regulatory unit to monitor big tech companies.

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Complaints against big tech companies persist

Australian media publishers have long complained about big tech companies giving them unfair competition for advertising dollars. News Corp has gone as far as calling for the breakup of Google.

Google and Facebook alone will make $103.7 billion and $67.4 billion in global advertising sales, respectively, in 2019, eMarketer estimates. And eMarketer forecasts global digital ad revenue will reach $333.3 billion this year, suggesting Google and Facebook will capture more than half of the world’s digital ad spending.

Media publishers think the success of big tech companies in the advertising market has come at their expense. Therefore, big tech critics have called for their breakup, arguing that doing so would help control their influence and allow rivals to flourish. Complaints against big tech companies have grown so loud that Facebook and Google are currently the subjects of multiple antitrust probes. However, Facebook has strongly rejected the idea of breaking up big tech, citing various reasons why that would be wrong.

Australia puts Facebook on notice

But Facebook’s defense hasn’t stopped Australia from exploring ways to rein in big tech companies. Australia will release new guidelines that seek to ensure that big tech companies do not abuse their market dominance. It wants Facebook and Google to follow those guidelines. And if they don’t, then Australia’s antitrust agency would force them to, Reuters reports.

In addition to clipping the wings of big tech companies, Australia wants to clean up digital platforms. After the Christchurch shooting in March, which was live-streamed on social media, Australia passed a new law on social media content regulation. Under the law, a company could be fined up to 10% of its global revenue for violation. Furthermore, executives of a company that violates the law could be jailed for several years.

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