Facebook users in Australia saw their news feeds go dark on Thursday, after the social media company blocked all media content as its dispute with the Australian government escalates, Reuters reported.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on his Facebook (FB) page, “Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.”
Reuters quoted Morrison as saying, “These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.”
Last month, Reuters reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reached out to lawmakers in Australia to discuss a planned law that would result in internet giants, including Facebook and Google (GOOGL), paying media outlets for content used on their sites. However, Mark Zuckerberg failed to persuade lawmakers to change the policy.
According to the proposed law, news media outlets can negotiate collectively or individually, over content that drives traffic to Facebook and Google’s websites. If the parties fail to reach an agreement, an arbitrator appointed by the Australian Government will set the fees for both parties.
Facebook had warned in January that it will stop news sharing if the Australian government proceeds with the law.
According to the Reuters report, Facebook said that it blocked media content in Australia “because the draft law did not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content and said its commitment to combat misinformation had not changed.” (See Facebook stock analysis on TipRanks)
On Feb. 10, Tigress Financial Partners analyst Ivan Feinseth reiterated a Buy rating on the stock. Feinseth said, “FB continues to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic driving greater online interaction, increased average daily and average monthly users, and increased user engagement.”
“FB also continues to benefit from ongoing digital advertising growth, increasing users, and growing user engagement through its ongoing innovation and platform expansion into e-commerce and more interactive application capabilities,” the analyst added.
The rest of the Street is bullish about the stock with a Strong Buy consensus rating. That’s based on 32 analysts recommending a Buy, 3 analysts suggesting a Hold, and one analyst recommending a Sell. The average analyst price target of $341.85 implies 25% upside potential to current levels.
According to the TipRanks Smart Score system, FB scores a 7 out of 10 indicating that the stock is likely to perform in line with market averages.