Facebook relents, switches news back on in Australia

Pablo Tucker
February 26, 2021

"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.

Cox said Facebook and Google had been reluctant to make any deals with publishers until Australia "forcefully" pushed forward, and it worked. Instead, in the case of a standoff, an arbitration panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp has said it was also in talks with Facebook.

The development of a code of conduct is part of the government's response to the ACCC's Digital Platforms Inquiry final report to promote competition, enhance consumer protection and support a sustainable Australian media landscape in the digital age.

The announcement comes amid Facebook's row with the Australian govt over the law that requires social media giants to pay news organisations for their content.

Australia passes new law requiring Facebook and Google to pay for news

'News publishers and governments have worked together to fight for fair treatment.

"Now the advertising revenue is flowing to Google and Facebook, and we have no model for funding news media in the future", he wrote in a recent blog post for The Conversation.

Facebook Inc on Wednesday pledged to invest at least $1 billion in the news industry over 3 years.

As of Friday morning, news content from outlets including the ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald, News.com.au, and this very masthead is visible and accessible to Facebook's millions-strong Australian user base.

In a Tuesday statement, Facebook confirmed those tweaks would see news content returning to Australia.


The "arrogant and disgraceful" move - which also banned charity, health authority and emergency service pages - came after Australia's ground-breaking news media bargaining code passed the lower house of Parliament on February 17. Facebook past year generated about 5.1 billion referrals to Australian publishers, claiming the traffic was valued at $407 million Australian dollars ($324 million U.S.), Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, said in a blog post.

"We neither take nor ask for the content for which we were being asked to pay a potentially exorbitant price", he said.

He said the firm was already working with publishers in the United Kingdom to pay for content in its Facebook News product, which personalizes news for its readers' individual tastes.

Some lawmakers and publishers have warned that could unfairly leave smaller media companies out in the cold, but both the government and Facebook have claimed the revised legislation as a win.

Facebook successfully argued for the change after cutting off access to Australian publishers and preventing people in the country from sharing links to news.


The amendments to the legislation came after dialogue between the Australian government and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.

Google has struck a series of deals with publishers, including a global content arrangement with News Corp, after earlier threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia over the laws.

A source familiar with Facebook's plans told Reuters that the situation in Canada is different to Australia.

Mr Sims said he was not surprised the platforms would strike deals with large city businesses first.


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