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Facebook to unblock news in Australia

Posted on: February 23, 2021 by Ian Murray

Facebook is to lift its ban on news content in Australia after reaching a deal with the over changes to the proposed new laws to force the digital giants to pay for content.

The Australian government’s News Media Bargaining Code is set to be become law this week.

Facebook had blocked news from its platforms this month after failing to reach an agreement with the government. The platform was unhappy with clauses in the code that would have required it to agree to binding arbitration if it could not reach deals with news publishers.

In the latest development, Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director William Easton announced: “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 recognise 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.”

Campbell Brown, (pictured) Facebook’s vice president for Global News Partnerships, added: “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.”

The amendments to the News Media Bargaining Code will give Google and Facebook an opt-out if they can show they have struck deals with publishers.

The changes to the legislation mean the digital giants will have three months to broker a deal with a publisher if the government decides to intervene.