Facebook Retracts its News Sharing Ban in Australia
The Facebook-Australia news battle seems to have ended. Facebook will restore the news content on its platform in the country after the Australian government agreed to amend its proposed law requiring internet platforms to strike revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers.
Facebook and Google have been in a disagreement with the Australian government about an upcoming law as per which they will have to pay publishers for the content shared on their platforms. In response to the law, Facebook took an extreme step last week by blocking news from being shared on its platform by users and publishers in Australia.
Managing Director Facebook Australia and New Zealand William Easton said, “The Company is satisfied as the Australian government has agreed to the changes and even guaranteed to address our core concerns. The news content will be up in the platform in the coming days.”
The amendment calls for a mediation period of two-months before Facebook is forced into arbitration with publishers, and the Australian government will consider commercial agreements that the platforms have made with local publishers.
Another amendment is that the Australian government should take into account whether the company has reached any commercial agreements with the Australian news industry. This move will open the door for Facebook and Google to avoid the most feared aspects of the bargaining code by signing more media to their respective Facebook News and Google News Showcase products.
William Easton added, “The amendments take care of the major concerns over allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers compared to the value we receive from them.”
The big US tech companies are concerned over the law forcing them into arbitration with news companies if they cannot reach a deal. They are claiming that this arbitration process underestimates the value their services offer to news publishers.
Vice President Facebook Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown said, “The Australian government has clarified that we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on our platform and we will not be subject to any forced negotiation.” She added that this means Facebook can support the publishers that choose to.
While Facebook took the extreme step to block all news on its platform in the country in response to the law, Google has been busy making deals with the country’s news publishers. Google is also making deals with many international publishers around the world. Initially, Google had also threatened to withdraw its services from Australia. The government and Facebook have likely reached a compromise.
Last week, Facebook had responded to the Australian government’s bill that wanted internet platforms to enter into revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers by blocking news sharing and viewing for users across the country. But as the government changed the law, Facebook said that it would reverse the news sharing in the coming days.