Facebook said it would start restoring news sharing to Australian user feeds in “the next few days” after reaching a deal with the country’s government. The social media giant took a sweeping decision to restrict news content in Australia last Wednesday after a dispute over a draft media bargaining code that is expected to be voted on soon. The code reportedly forced Facebook and other big tech companies like Google to enter into revenue-sharing agreements with publishers for content posted on their social media platforms.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said changes have been made to the code to “further clarify digital platforms and news media companies on how the code is supposed to work and strengthen the framework to ensure that companies with news media are fairly paid, ”Seven News reported.
The changes mean the code now includes a two-month mediation period to allow digital platforms like Facebook and publishers to agree on deals before they are forced to go to arbitration. The Australian government will also review trade deals that tech platforms have already made with local publishers before deciding whether the code applies to them, and give them a month’s notice before making a final decision.
William Easton, chief executive of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement the company was “happy” with the changes, adding that they addressed “Facebook’s” fundamental concerns about allowing trade deals that recognize the value our platform delivers to publishers versus the value we get from it. “
Facebook’s restrictions last week prevented Australian publishers from sharing or posting content from Facebook Pages, and Australian users were unable to view or share Australian or international news content.
The Australian government announced in April 2020 that it would pass a mandatory code ordering Google, Facebook and other tech giants to pay local media outlets for the reuse of their content, after an earlier attempt to create a voluntary code with blocked businesses.
As it lobbied against the proposed law, Facebook first threatened to restrict public sharing of news content in Australia last September. Google also claimed that user experience in Australia would suffer and suggested that it may no longer be able to offer free services in the country.