Facebook reverses its Australia news ban

Facebook has decided to lift its ban on news content for Australian users after coming to an agreement with the Australian government.

Last week, Facebook users in Australia opened up their apps to find that they were unable to view or share any news on the platform. The social network made the move in response to Australia’s proposed media bargaining law, which aims to provide a fairer internet for news publishers and force the likes of Facebook and Google to pay these publishers for displaying their news content.

The Code has been heavily opposed by both Facebook and Google, though the latter has already more-or-less accepted the government’s decision and launched its ‘News Showcase’ hub in Australia.

Facebook had been planning to launch its own news hub in Australia, following the rollouts of ‘Facebook News’ in the US and the UK. However, Facebook was of the view that the proposed law “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” said William Easton, Managing Director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, upon the initial announcement of Facebook’s news content ban.

Now, following discussions between Facebook and the Australian Government, the social network has lifted its ban on news content and the Australia’s Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, have announced that amendments will be made to ‘News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code’.

In a joint release, Frydenberg and Fletcher said that the amendments are going to “provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the Code is intended to operate and strengthen the framework for ensuring news media businesses are fairly remunerated”.

As a result, Australian Facebook users will be able to access and share news content again in the next few days.

“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,” said Campbell Brown, Vice President of Global News Partnerships at Facebook.

“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.”