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Facebook Australia Restores Users’ Ability to Share News Content

Facebook Australia Restores Users’ Ability to Share News Content

Facebook has announced that it will once again allow Australian users to share news content on the social networking platform. Facebook says it changed its mind following changes in the country’s media code.

The social network last week banned users from sharing news on its social platforms in Australia in the face of proposed media laws in the country that the company said would require social media companies to pay for news content.

Australia’s proposed Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Media Bargaining law was said to be designed to balance the bargaining power between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms.

The draft code would allow news media businesses to bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over payment for the inclusion of news on their services.

However, Facebook announced on Tuesday that it had conducted discussions over the weekend with the Australian government about amendments to the bargaining code. The social network said it was “satisfied” with the agreement the two parties had reached.

“After further discussions, we are satisfied that the Australian 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,” Facebook’s VP of global news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said in a statement.

“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. We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,” Brown said.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg had told him the ban would end “in the coming days”, following the talks. “Facebook has re-friended Australia,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Australian authorities have agreed to introduce further amendments to the proposed law to allow the government not to apply the code to Facebook if it can demonstrate a “significant contribution” to local journalism. A two-month mediation period before enforced arbitration goes into effect, which could allow involved parties to reach a private deal.

Facebook had faced pushback in the form of negative headlines around the globe, and governments of other countries began to consider similar changes in their media laws. Meanwhile, the company did receive support from some quarters. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web, said he was concerned that forcing companies to pay for certain content could make the internet “unworkable.”