Facebook reverses news ban after reaching an agreement with Australian govt
Facebook had earlier announced that it will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content in response to the proposed law
Social media giant Facebook has reversed its news ban in Australia after reaching an agreement with the national government. According to Facebook, the Australian government has agreed to make amendments to the country's media code that will take care of its core concern about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value its platform provides to publishers relative to the value it receives from them.
"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," Facebook VP, Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown said in a statement.
"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."
In its original statement on 17th February, Facebook had announced that it will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content in response to the country’s proposed new Media Bargaining law.
"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," Facebook had stated.
It also noted that the discussion has focused on US technology companies and how they benefit from news content on their services. "We understand many will ask why the platforms may respond differently. The answer is because our platforms have fundamentally different relationships with the news. Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content. On the other hand, publishers willingly choose to post news on Facebook, as it allows them to sell more subscriptions, grow their audiences, and increase advertising revenue."
Facebook had also claimed that in 2020 it had generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million. "For Facebook, the business gain from the news is minimal. News makes up less than 4% of the content people see in their News Feed. Journalism is important to a democratic society, which is why we build dedicated, free tools to support news organisations around the world in innovating their content for online audiences."
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