SYDNEY - Facebook has blocked Australians from viewing and sharing news on the platform in response to the government’s plan to force the social media giant to strike deals with media companies to pay for news.

The company said the plan “has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services”, adding: “With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

The Australian government strongly criticised the move, saying it showed the “immense market power of these digital social giants”.

The Google search engine will be disabled in Australia and Facebook will remove news from its feed for all Australian users unless the country’s government backs down over proposed media law changes, the tech giants have warned.

Australia is introducing “a world-first law to make Google, Facebook and potentially other tech companies pay media outlets for their news content”.

Lobby group Reset Australia, which is campaigning for the regulation of big tech companies, has accused Google and Facebook of “bullying a sovereign nation”.