(Images: AP)

As it quickly became apparent yesterday that Facebook's shutdown of "news" pages extended well beyond those of media companies to a wide variety of non-media organisations -- in some cases leading to restorations of pages following complaints -- the definition of "news" became a central issue in the government's attempt to extort large amounts of money from Google and Facebook on behalf of Australian media companies.

Facebook argues that, because of the broad definition of news content in the legislation establishing the mandatory news media bargaining code, it has no choice but to shut down all pages containing news content, regardless of whether they belong to media organisations or not.

Under the legislation, it's not permitted to discriminate between news content from different sources.