Facebook to restore Australian newsfeed service as talks turn positive

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The US-based tech giant Facebook is expected to lift its blackout on Australian news publishers after reaching a deal with the government.

Commenting about the truce, Facebook Australia’s Managing Director, Mr. William Easton remarked that “We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to several changes and guarantees that address our core concerns”.

The agreement resulted from a series of negotiations between Australia’s Treasurer Josh
Frydenberg, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, and Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg. As a result of these talks, Facebook feeds would be restored “in the coming days”.

The Australian government will offer four amendments, including the mechanism for final offer arbitration which will provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the regulation is intended to operate.

Last week, the social media giant implemented a strict ban on news content for Australian users in response to proposed legislation that would require Facebook and search engine giant Google to pay news publishers for content.

A number of Facebook pages that did not belong to news publishers were also affected during the widespread blackout. Posts from the Facebook pages of some government health departments and emergency services were also deleted, raising criticism about Facebook’s widespread application of the news ban.

Countries like Canada and Britain are closely monitoring the standoff between the Australian government and Facebook while they prepare to implement similar legislation at home.

The law, which requires Facebook and Google to pay media companies for news content was introduced as a way to increase regulation on tech giants, who dominate the news market and benefit heavily from the news publishers’ work.

Related: Facebook takes steps to curb medical data shared by apps