Facebook announced that it would invest $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years following a conflict with the Australian government. The country required the social network to pay media outlets and publishers for displaying content from their news sites. This was announced by Nick Clegg, Facebook's global policy chief.
He admitted that the company was wrong and went too far with blocking access for users from Australia to read and share news on the social media platform. According to Clegg, the decision to block the news content in Australia was difficult, and some content was blocked by mistake.
The company now says it is ready to partner with news outlets and promote quality journalism. Facebook has already announced future collaboration agreements with a number of UK and US publishers, and is actively negotiating with publishers in Germany and France.
“Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers. We absolutely recognize quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function — informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful to account,” Clegg says. “That’s why we’ve invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion more over the next three years.”
The company offers to pay media representatives for the content they will show in a dedicated Facebook News tab.
The move is similar to the one Google made last year, when the company announced it would start paying publishers to create specialized versions of news content for its Google News Showcase platform.
The Australian government was preparing a new law called the News Media Bargaining Code, which would require tech giants such as Facebook and Google to negotiate payments for content that appears on their platform.
In response to the new law, on February 17, Facebook blocked Australian users from viewing and sharing news on its social media platform. The Facebook pages of all local and international news sites were no longer accessible to Australians, and users from abroad were unable to share or view Australian news either.
However, a few days later, Facebook 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.