Facebook Restores News Content After Brokering Deal With Australian Regulators

  • Facebook Restores News Content After Brokering Deal With Australian Regulators

Facebook Restores News Content After Brokering Deal With Australian Regulators

The social media company caused alarm with its sudden decision last week to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law.

The legislation was created to curb the outsized bargaining power of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers.

Importantly, the amendments will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms. Facebook was criticized for its ban, which also temporarily cut access to government pandemic, public health and emergency services on the social networking site.

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it would raise its funding of news publishers to $1 billion over three years.

In a joint statement today, Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and Minster for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Peter Fletcher, said the Code represents a significant microeconomic reform.

The issue with Facebook down under is, in fact, a global issue.

Facebook says that "thankfully", following discussions with the Australian government, the law will be amended to implement "fair negotiations" without "without the looming threat of heavy-handed and unpredictable arbitration".

Facebook last September had bluntly said this was a bad piece of legislation and warned Aussie users it would prevent them sharing local and global news on its platforms (including Instagram), if Australia pressed ahead with this change.

Mr. Clegg said that to comply with the law as originally proposed in Australia, "Facebook would have been forced to pay potentially unlimited amounts of money to multi-national media conglomerates under an arbitration system that deliberately misdescribes the relationship between publishers and Facebook". Facebook argued that they do support journalism and remain committed to it, despite what some may believe. "Contrary to what some have suggested, Facebook does not steal news content", Brown said. "Publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook".

"Everybody can walk away saying, well we got what we wanted", University of New South Wales business professor Rob Nicholls told AFP.

"These agreements will bring a new slate of premium journalism, including some previously paywalled content, to Facebook", the social media giant said in a statement.

It is hoped that Australians do not have to face this trauma again.

According to Australia's competition watchdog, for every $100 spent on online advertising, Google captures $53, Facebook takes $28 and the rest is shared among others.

In particular, the companies objected to rules that made negotiations with media companies mandatory and gave an independent Australian arbiter the right to impose a monetary settlement.

Google has independently struck deals to pay a string Australian publishers for news, including News Corp. and Facebook is doing the same.

The code has been called a "world-first" by Frydenberg and is the first law globally to successfully compel the tech giants to compensate news publishers for displaying their content on their sites. This helps them expand their reach, but the digital platforms are getting the news content for free.