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Facebook to restore news in Australia following agreement with government

6 months 3 weeks 3 days ago Tuesday, February 23 2021 Feb 23, 2021 February 23, 2021 5:16 AM February 23, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

Australians who suddenly discovered, last week, that they couldn't access certain news sites or post stories from these news organizations on their Facebook accounst, will soon see access to these sites restored, along with a restoration of related posting privileges. 

After engaging in a bitter dispute with the Australian government over whether tech companies should have to pay news organizations for content, Facebook is ready to extend an olive branch and restore the news pages that it had blocked from Australians during the spat. 

According to CNN, the social network agreed to the move only after the government granted changes to a planned media code that would allow Facebook to retain greater control over what appears on its platform.

The announcement marks a resolution to a months-long disagreement between the American tech firm and Canberra, which had been working on legislation that would force tech platforms to pay publishers for news content.

The legislation that had been under considertation would have allowed media outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with Facebook and Google — and to enter binding arbitration if the parties couldn't reach an agreement.

On Tuesday, the Australian government said it would edit the code to include a provision that "must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses."

Arbitration, meanwhile, will now only be used as a "last resort" following a period of "good faith" mediation, CNN reports.

"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," Campbell Brown, Facebook's vice president for global news partnerships, said in a statement.

She said the agreement "will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers," adding that the company was "restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days."

The restoration will nix Facebook's previous action against Australians, which prevented from finding or sharing news on its service. The decision — which appeared to be the most restrictive move the company has ever taken against content publishers — forced the pages of media organizations and even some unrelated essential services to go dark.

The social media platform hasn't been the only organization at odds with the new laws.

According to CNN, Google already been trying to get ahead of the new legislation by announcing partnerships with some of the country's largest media organizations, including Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Seven West Media. Facebook revealed its own deal with Seven on Tuesday.

CNN reports that when asked about Google's partnerships last week, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg alluded to the changes that were ultimately announced Tuesday, saying that "if commercial deals are in place, then it changes the equation."

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