Bulletins

Facebook made a deal to get news back in Australia

It looked for a while like the two sides might be at an impasse.

Mark Zuckerberg looking sad

It only took a few days of preventing Australian users from accessing news on Facebook for the two sides to reach a deal.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After only a few days of preventing Australian users from sharing news posts and preventing users all over the world from sharing Australian publishers, Facebook has come to an agreement with the government said it plans to start showing news on the platform "in the coming days."


It looked for a while like the two sides might be at an impasse. Facebook was steadfast in its refusal to give in to Australia's requirements that it not only pay publishers for news links on the platform, but submit to arbitration if it couldn't reach a deal, along with providing notice about updates to its algorithms. (Google made deals with a number of publishers in the country, to circumvent these laws.) The Australian government, meanwhile, refused to be bullied by a tech giant.

But in the end, the government appears to have blinked first. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that new amendments would be introduced to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code to make even clearer that the goal is for companies to make deals outside official means, and gives both sides two more months to figure out how to press ahead.

The new amendments also give Facebook more control to decide which publishers it wants to work with, and when. "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," Facebook's Campbell Brown said in a statement.

This was clearly always the goal. Facebook reached out to media companies in Australia not long after banning them from the platform, the Australian Financial Review said. It demonstrated quickly how much leverage it had in the fight. Now the code appears virtually guaranteed to become law, but Facebook appears to have come out on top.

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