First is the link tax. This is fundamentally against the
principles of an open internet. The government saying that you
can’t link to a news site unless you pay a tax should be seen as
inherently problematic for a long list of reasons. At a most
basic level, it’s demanding payment for traffic. […] This is
like saying that not only should NBC have to run an
advertisement for Techdirt, but it should have to pay me for it.
If that seems totally nonsensical, that’s because it is. The
link tax makes no sense.
And, most importantly, as any economist will tell you, taxing
something doesn’t just bring in revenue, it decreases whatever you
tax. This is why we have things like cigarette taxes and pollution
taxes. It’s a tool to get less of something. So, in this case,
Australia is saying it wants to tax links to news on Facebook, and
Facebook responds in the exact way any reasonable economist would
predict: it says that’s just not worth it and bans links. That’s
not incompatible with democracy. It’s not bringing a country to
its knees. The country said “this is how much news links cost” and
Facebook said “oh, that’s too expensive, so we’ll stop.”
Contrary to the idea that this is an “attack” on journalism or
news in Australia, it’s not. The news still exists in Australia.
News companies still have websites. People can still visit those
Facebook’s doing the right thing here. Australia’s law is a bad one — it might as well have been written by Rupert Murdoch himself.