Facebook to Lift Australia News Ban Following Government Deal

Facebook on Monday said it had struck a deal with Australian lawmakers to pay local publishers for their news content, after the government finally agreed to change some of the terms within its new media code.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed in statements that they had reached an agreement on amendments to proposed legislation that would make the social network and Google pay for news that they feature.

The agreement ends Facebook’s temporary ban on sharing news links on its platform in the country. Data showed that the link-sharing ban caused news traffic to plummet in the region. It also ends Facebook’s global ban on users’ sharing links to Australian news publishers.

Facebook had moved to cut off the sharing of news articles last week in response to a law set to be passed soon. The News Media Bargaining Code in the legislation would require platforms like Facebook to pay publishers for news content that appears on their sites. It would also have allowed media companies to bargain with platforms over prices, a process that would end in government arbitration.

New amendments to the law set to be introduced Tuesday would insert a two-month period to give platforms and publishers more time to negotiate before being forced into arbitration and suggest that online companies that have made “a significant contribution” to the Australian news industry may be exempt temporarily from having to make payments.

On Monday night, Facebook issued a statement that points to an agreement with the Australian government.

“After further discussions,” the statement reads, “we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them. As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days.”

Moving forward, Campbell Brown, Facebook’s VP of news, says that the Australian government has clarified that the tech giant “will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.”

“It’s always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we’ll continue to invest in news globally, and resist efforts by media conglomerates.”

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