It didn’t come back as quickly as it disappeared, but Facebook has officially brought news back into the News Feed for Australian users.
At around 3AM AEDT on Friday, the tech giant restored Australian news publishers’ Facebook Pages, and gave users the ability to see, post and share Australian and international news content.
It was just over a week since the company removed it amid negotiations with the federal government and news publishers.
Since then, the government changed the legislation and passed the law — meaning that Facebook and Google have to come to agreements with Australian news publishers if they want to include their content on their platforms, or face going to forced arbitration.
Meanwhile, Facebook has begun to sign letters of intent with Australian publishers, which is kind of like being engaged before you get married.
Now that Facebook has brought news back, what’s next?
As more and more of these deals come together between Facebook and Google and publishers, there’s still a lot that remains to be hashed out.
Some small publishers say they’re having troubles coming to deals or are unable all together.
Women’s Agenda publisher Tarla Lambert told ABC’s RN Breakfast programme on Friday morning that small publishers are having difficulties striking deals.
Meanwhile RenewEconomy editor wrote blisteringly about being told the publication “wasn’t a great fit” for the public interest journalism focus of Google’s news product.
The news media bargaining code was intended to be the ‘stick’ to the ‘carrot’ of voluntary agreements.
If Facebook and Google do not come to some agreement with publishers, that’s when there would be forced arbitration where a third-party will make the decision on how much they will have to pay for news if they still want it on their platforms.
With the law passed and some of the big deals done, it would be easy to file this whole saga into the ‘done’ pile.
But it’s not — many deals remain to be struck and we haven’t seen how this plays out yet.
It’s far from obvious whether the goal of promoting public interest journalism has succeeded or not — but if we want to be sure, we can’t stop paying attention.