Facebook's Nick Clegg has attempted to set the record straight on the company's recent dealings with the Australian government, explaining in a blog post why Facebook briefly removed news from the platform in Australia ahead of a new law being passed that would change the company's relationship to publishers. Facebook's planning to spend $1 billion with publishers over the next three years, he said, but on its own terms.
Facebook's primary issue with the Australian law, Clegg said, was with the rule that would force arbitration if Facebook and publishers couldn't come to a deal otherwise. "Facebook would have been forced to pay potentially unlimited amounts of money to multi-national media conglomerates under an arbitration system that deliberately misdescribes the relationship between publishers and Facebook," he wrote.
Clegg also took issue with the idea of paying publishers every time a link appears on Facebook, which a number of tech analysts and critics have also criticized over the last few weeks. He picked an excellent metaphor describe why he thinks it's problematic: "It's like forcing car makers to fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car — and letting the stations set the price."