Facebook announced that it would lift the ban on Australians sharing or viewing local and international news content on its platform. Both the Australian government and Facebook agreed to last-minute changes to its proposed media bargaining code on Tuesday in order for the ban to be lifted.
“Facebook has refriended Australia. Australian news will be restored to the Facebook platform, and Facebook has committed to entering into good-faith negotiations with Australian news media businesses and seeking to reach agreements to pay for content,” said Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
Facebook has previously blocked Australia from sharing or viewing news content due to a proposed legislation that would make social media platforms pay Australian media for links shared on its sites. The blackout also initially cut temporary access to government pandemic, public health and emergency services.
What the lift in the ban means
Australia’s legislation was designed to curb the outsized bargaining power of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers. Facebook’s cooperation means that digital giants won’t able to abuse their positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism.
Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president for news partnerships said that news will be restored on Facebook in Australia “in the coming days”. The social media platform will also be negotiating deals with Australian publishers.
Australian media company Seven West Media’s chairman Kerry Stokes announced that they had signed a letter of intent with Facebook. The long form agreement is expected to be executed over the following 60 days.
“Together, the two announcement are a strong recognition of the quality and credibility of our leading news brands and entertainment, and will enable is to continue to build our digital platform,” said Stokes.
Google also initially threatened to pull from Australia as a reaction to the proposed legislation. But after Australia snapped back by threatening to migrate to Microsoft’s Bing, Google changed its mind.
The company has since been signing up Australia’s largest media companies in content-licensing deals through its News Showcase. They say they have deals with more than 50 Australian titles and more than 500 publishers globally using the model—which was launched in October.