Facebook announced on Tuesday (23) that it will lift the blocking of news pages in Australia for the next few days after negotiating with the country’s government the day before.
The social network restricted content on the 17th of this month in response to a bill that forces technology giants to pay the media for the use of news.
“We have reached an agreement that will allow us to support the press groups we choose, including small and local ones,” said Campbell Brown, vice president of Facebook responsible for global news associations.
With the agreement, technology companies will have a period of two months to negotiate with the media and will be able to adjust the values directly, with government intervention only as a last resort.
“As a result of the changes, we can now work to stimulate our investment in public interest journalism and reinstate news on Facebook for Australians in the next few days,” said Facebook Australia’s director general, Will Easton.
“We are happy to close an agreement with the Australian government and we appreciate the constructive discussions we had,” he added.
Sharing and viewing news on Facebook was blocked last week for all users in Australia, both personal and company profiles.
External profiles were also unable to access the country’s news content. For the pages of media publishers, such as newspapers and TV networks, the publication of any type of content in Australia has also been prohibited.
Facebook has between 16 and 18 million daily users in Australia, according to local media. Its total population is 25 million.
Facebook blocks press vehicle pages in Australia
The decision was a reaction to the bill under discussion in the Australian parliament that obliges technology companies to pay for news content published on social networks or search engines. The Australian government called the attitude arrogant and disappointing. Facebook claims that it helps content producers to profit from referrals to them on the social network and therefore does not agree to directly remunerate news producers.
Despite the content restriction, the bill that changes the rules for the use of news is not yet in force. It passed the House of Representatives and is being debated in the Senate.
The legislation under discussion provides that major internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple remunerate media presses for using their content. The objective, according to the government, is to distribute online advertising revenue more equitably.
- Learn more about the bill
Where else has this kind of discussion been going on?
France is another country where payment for media companies is discussed. In an April 2020 ruling, the country’s antitrust authority decided that Google needs to pay French publishing companies and news agencies for the reuse of its content.
Canada also plans a similar law, according to Reuters. The Minister of Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, responsible for the areas of culture, media, sports and the arts, said that Facebook’s action in Australia will not affect his plans.
“We are working to see which model would be the most appropriate,” he said, adding that he spoke last week with French, Australian, German and Finnish colleagues about working together to ensure a fair remuneration for web content.
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