Facebook has decided to lift the ban on viewing and sharing news content in Australia after the authorities agreed to make a number of changes to the law that caused the conflict in the first place. The agreement was reached after negotiations between Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook will again let users in Australia share and view news content on its platform. The country's government has proposed to make changes to the News Media Bargaining Code, the bill that would oblige Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google to pay Australian publishers for the content shared on their platforms.
Facebook and the Australian authorities reportedly agreed to make four amendments to the bill. They suggest that once the law enters into force, Australian authorities will have to notify digital platforms at least one month in advance that they must comply with the new law.
In making its decision, authorities should consider whether the platform has made a "significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry" by reaching commercial agreements with Australian media. In addition, the amendments provide for a two-month period of mediation between the platform and the media company before the government-appointed arbitrator intervenes. This should give the parties more time to reach an agreement.
"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 forced negotiation," Facebook's vice president of global news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said. "We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers."
Facebook noted that the platform would restore the full-fledged work of the social network in Australia in the coming days.
In response to the proposed News Media Bargaining Code, Facebook blocked Australian users from sharing and viewing news on the platform on February 17. Since then, the Facebook pages of all local and international news sites have been unavailable to Australians. Users abroad also could not share or view Australian media news.
At the same time, the Australian authorities criticized Facebook's decision, noting that this ban had a huge impact on society.