Facebook Is Bringing News Back In Australia

Facebook Is Bringing News Back In Australia
Image: Getty Images

Facebook announced that it will revert changes removing news for users in Australia following talks with the Australian government.

On Tuesday afternoon, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that Facebook would be bringing back news to Australian feeds following some further amendments to the proposed news media bargaining code.

“The Government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days,” he said in a statement.

The amendments to the law — that would force tech companies to negotiate with Australian media publishers if the two parties don’t come to their own agreements — are largely friendly to Facebook, but don’t water down the code significantly.

These include considering the tech giant’s other contributions to journalism in Australia, providing notice when the government changes what parts of the tech giants are included under the code, and giving a two-month grace period for negotiations before the forced arbitration kicks in.

Facebook representatives also heralded the decision.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we’ve had with Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister Fletcher over the past week,” Facebook Australia & New Zealand managing director Will Easton said in a company blog post.

“We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers.

“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.

“As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days.”

There’s a lot about implementation of the news code that remains to be seen, and the law itself hasn’t even passed yet. In fact, all we know is that news is due back “in the coming day.”

But overall, this is a positive step for the existence of news in Facebook feeds in Australia.

More to come