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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Indian PM Narendra Modi (Images: AP)

For the US tech giants, this week’s spat with Australia has been a minor distraction. In India right now, the fight is existential. Just as the Morrison government realised it needed Facebook more than Facebook needed it, in India it seems to be becoming clear that it's precisely the other way around.

Overnight the Indian government announced new rules to give itself tighter control over online content, particularly aimed at social media (but wrapping in digital news media), including the power to order the taking down of content which the government believes breaches “norms of journalistic conduct”.

Far from the Australian to-and-fro over sharing out dollars between old media and big tech, the fight in India is the front line in the battle over the splinter-net -- the fracturing of the US domination of the internet into a multi-polar world with China building one parallel universe and, now it seems, India building another, all with its own locally enforced content rules and platforms.