Facebook’s Australian news ban to be lifted following ‘difficult’ talks

“After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns”

What you need to know

  • Facebook is set to end a ban on news on its platform in Australia.
  • Steps taken last week led to many government agencies and charities having their page banned by Facebook.
  • The company now says it is satisfied with changes proposed by the government to a new Media Bargaining Law.

Facebook is to restore news access on its platform in Australia following “difficult” negotiations surrounding a new Media Bargaining Law in the country.

In an update overnight to changes made last week Facebook stated:

We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week. We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers. After further discussions, 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.

Facebook’s VP of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown added:

“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers. We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days. Going forward, the government has clarified we 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 to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook.”

Last week, Facebook chose to remove access to news content on its platform in order to comply with Australia’s new Media Bargaining Law, stating:

The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. It 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 in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.

The ban left many government pages, charities, organizations, and even Facebook’s own page banned on the platform in what seems to have been a bit of an overreach in response to the measures from Facebook.

Facebook says that it now plans to negotiate deals with Australian publishers through Facebook news.

In what seems to be a victory for Facebook, the Australian government seems to have relaxed some of the criteria for the law and will give more warning to platforms if they are at risk of non-compliance.

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