Facebook reaches an agreement to lift the Australian news ban

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Australian Facebook users and pages will be able to share restored news links in the coming days, according to a statement by the country’s federal treasurer and communications minister released Tuesday afternoon.

The government announced changes would be made to its controversial news media negotiating code, apparently putting Facebook down to the point that the tech giant has signed a deal with the government to allow news content to return to its platform.

“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the Australian Government and appreciate the constructive discussions we had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week,” said William, Facebook General Manager for Australia and New Zealand Easton published in an update on Tuesday in the company blog.

“We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers. After further discussion, we are pleased that the Australian government has approved a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about commercial recognition who are recognized. ” The value our platform offers to publishers in relation to the value we get from them. Because of these changes, we can now work to expand our investment in journalism of public interest and restore news to Facebook for Australians in the coming days. “

The Code aims to force digital platforms to pay news organizations for news content shared or published on those platforms, leading to repeated threats by Facebook to prevent Australians from accessing or sharing links to news if the program continues. After months of warnings, Australians woke up last Friday to find that Facebook had done just that.

Not only has news content from major national and international outlets been blocked and removed, but a variety of other sites – from government sites to arts, sports, social support and health to satirical news – have been stripped of anything that was even vaguely smelt News.

The federal government withdrew its advertising spending from Facebook on Monday, which was widely viewed as a direct escalation of the stalemate.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had spoken directly to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg more than once in the past few days in an attempt to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

“These changes will give digital platforms and news media companies more clarity about how the Code works and strengthen the framework for fair compensation for news media companies,” the government press release said.

The changes include longer notice and mediation periods before a platform is named under the Code and clarify that decisions about which platforms to designate will be taken into account if they “make a significant contribution to the sustainability of Australian industry by making trade agreements with news hit media companies “.

The effects are unclear for now. The changes could potentially allow the government not to apply the code at all to platforms that do commercial deals – such as Google’s News Showcase.

This story unfolds …

UPDATE: February 23, 2021, 3:50 p.m. AEST This story has been updated with details from the Australian Government press release regarding changes to the Code.