Facebook reaches deal to reverse Australia’s news ban

Australian Facebook users and Pages will have their ability to share news links restored in the coming days, according to a statement released on Tuesday afternoon by the country’s federal treasurer.

The government announced amendments will be made to its controversial News Media Bargaining Code, apparently appeasing Facebook enough that the tech giant has struck a deal with the government to allow news content to return to its platform.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week,” Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, William Easton, said in an update published on Tuesday. 

“We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers. 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.”

The Code aims to force digital platforms to pay news organisations for news content shared or published on those platforms, leading Facebook to repeatedly threaten to block Australians from accessing or sharing links to news if the scheme went ahead. After months of warnings, Australians awoke last Friday to find Facebook had done just that. Not only was news content from large national and international outlets blocked and removed, but a huge swathe of other pages — from government pages to arts, sport, social support, and health, and even satirical news — were also gutted of anything that even vaguely smelled like news.

This story is developing…

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