UPDATED 2/23, 10:10 a.m. ET: Facebook is set to bring back news pages in Australia in the next few days as the nation’s government “agreed [on] changes to a planned media code that the company said would allow it to retain greater control over what appears on its platform,” CNN reports. The country, per the outlet, will amend said media code in a way 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.”
“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,” stated Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president for global news partnerships. She added this will “allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.”
Court arbitration will be treated as a last resort and initiated only after “good faith” mediation.
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Facebook wasn’t bluffing.
On Wednesday, the tech giant announced it will follow through with its threats to prohibit Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its website. The decision was made in response to a proposed Australian law that would require tech companies to pay publishers for disseminating stories across their platforms.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Facebook wrote in a blog post. “It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”
Australian publishers will also be banned from sharing their content on their designated Facebook pages, while news from international outlets will not be viewable or sharable among Australian users. According to CNBC, the ban also prohibits worldwide users from viewing and sharing stories from Australian outlets.
“Unfortunately, this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook,” the announcement continued. “Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted. To do this, we are using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and we will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Google announced it had struck a three-year, ad revenue-sharing deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Google has reached similar payment terms with other Australian publishers over the past week.
“The deal simply would not have been possible without the fervent, unstinting support of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, and the News Corp Board,” Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp, said in a press release. “For many years, we were accused of tilting at tech windmills, but what was a solitary campaign, a quixotic quest, has become a movement, and both journalism and society will be enhanced. “Particular thanks are certainly due to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Rod Sims and his able team, along with the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who have stood firm for their country and for journalism.”