Explained: Why Facebook is restoring news sharing in Australia – The Indian Express

Written by Shruti Dhapola , Edited by Explained Desk |
Updated: February 24, 2021 12:11:32 am

Facebook Tuesday announced that it would restore the sharing of news links by users and news publishers in the coming days after it struck a deal with the Australian government. The Australian government on its side is adding four new amendments to the proposed legislation, a big step-down from its earlier take where it had said it would not make any changes.

According to the reports, the new media code will not be applied to Facebook if the company can show that it has signed enough deals with news publishers in order to continue supporting newsrooms. Facebook has said that if the code is applied to them in the future, then they could pull out news from the country once again.

What has Facebook announced?

Facebook said it has struck a deal with Australian government and would once again allow users and news publishers in the country to share and post links to news articles. Last week, Facebook had banned all users and news publishers based in Australia from posting links to news on the platform. The ban also impacted pages of Australian hospitals, charities, government organisations who found their pages had been wiped clean.

“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,” Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships wrote in a new post.

“…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 recognise 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, ” Facebook said in an updated blog post.

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So what is the new deal ?

Going forward Facebook will “retain the ability to decide if news appears” on the platform, thus ensuring that they won’t “automatically be subject to a forced negotiation,” according to Campbell’s statement. She added that while Facebook has always tried to support journalism in Australia and the world, the company will “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.”

According to Reuters, the Australian government has added four amendments to the proposed code.

These include a two-month mediation period, which will give two sides more time to “negotiate commercial deals,” before going into arbitration.

Earlier, the code called for mandatory arbitration with a government-appointed arbitrator, if news publishers and tech giants were unable to come to a fair deal for displaying news content. Both Google and Facebook were unhappy about this forced arbitration clause.

The amendments also insert a rule that an internet company’s contribution to the “sustainability of the Australian news industry” via existing deals be taken into account before the code is applied to them, and at least a month’s notice would be given before it is actually applied. “These amendments will 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,” Josh Frydenberg, the treasury secretary said in a statement, Reuters reported.

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