Facebook to restore Australian news pages

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 23 February 2021

Facebook plans to reverse its block on Australia news, according to the federal government.

Tresurer Josh Frydenberg: "The government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days."

Last week, the social media giant stopped Australian users from being able to view and share news content. Other organisations, such as government departments and charities, were also caught in the ban,

The move was in response to the proposed news media bargaining code, which aims to govern how Facebook and Google pay certain publishers for their content.

The government responded by pulling its ad spend with the social media platform. 

Will Easton, Managing Director of Facebook Australia, says he's pleased to reach an agreement with the Australian government.

"We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers," he says.

"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 recognize 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.”

Frydenberg made astatement today after announcing further amendments to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

"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," he says.

"The Explanatory Memorandum will confirm that the Code only applies to the extent a digital platform is making covered news content available through those services.

"These amendments also add further impetus for parties to engage in commercial negotiations outside the Code - a central feature of the framework that the Government is putting in place to foster more sustainable public interest journalism in Australia." 

Campbell Brown, VP, of Facebook' Global News Partnerships: ”After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.

"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.” 

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