Facebook to restore Australian news Pages after Code revisions

Facebook will change how it shares news for Aussies. It promised to reinstate the Pages of Australian news publishers.

The reversal came after the Australian government made new amendments to its Media Bargaining Code proposal. It will give Facebook time to close deals with publishers. And it paves the way for launching Facebook News in the country.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government […] After further discussions, we are satisfied that the government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them,” says Facebook.

Four amendments

The government will make four changes to its proposed code. Before the amendments, Facebook would have to pay publishers for links to their content that would appear on the social network.

“A decision to designate a platform under the code must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses,” says Facebook.

The amendments note that the government will assess in 30 days and inform a publisher of its decision to include it, or not, under the Code. Facebook will have two months to negotiate with publishers before forcing it into arbitration for an agreed payment.

“…only applies to the extent a digital platform is making covered news content available through those services,” explains a final note from the Code.

We still have no details on how much Facebook must pay. The Code does not specify how many local media groups Facebook has to close commercial deals with for an exemption. The revisions were enough for Facebook to reinstate news content in Australian news Pages.

Existing agreements

The social network has pre-existing commercial agreements with some Australian news publishers. Back Facebook inked deals with local broadcasters in 2019 to share exclusive Facebook Watch content.

The firm has established networks with online media publications in the country. It planned in August last year to invest millions more in local news through a separate news tab for Aussies.

Facebook scrapped its plan when the government pushed with the Code. With the amendments, everything seems to be back on track.

Facebook blocked links to content from all Australian news publishers last week after Government negotiations crumbled. It rolled out a full ban that included news publishers, government Pages, health authorities, arts institutions, among others.

The aftermath had multiple Australian publishers dropping 50 percent in website traffic.

facebook australian news pages

Large publishers could handle a drop in referrals. But smaller media organizations rely on Facebook. And the ban has hampered their operations for the past week.

The government’s push seems targeted at big players. It pressures them to squeeze more money from big tech firms.

The government needs good press for the coming election. And publishers want more revenue.

Australian news Pages will restore in the coming days.  

Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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