Facebook will restore news on Australian sites to its platform after the government agreed to change its landmark media negotiation code that would force the social network and Google to pay to display news content.
Last week, Facebook blocked all messages on its platform in Australia, accidentally blocking information and government pages, including health and emergency services.
The move prevented people around the world from posting links to Australian publications on Facebook after the government considered legislation to force the company to pay for media content.
The government move was supposed to force internet companies to pay news organizations, but Facebook had argued that “the relationship between our platform and the publishers who use it is fundamentally misunderstood”.
After a series of talks over the weekend, an agreement was reached and the Australian government has agreed to amend parts of the law.
Four changes to the legislation are proposed that have already been approved by the House of Representatives.
“We are pleased that the Australian government has approved a number of changes and warranties that address our core concerns about enabling commercial transactions that recognize the value of our platform to publishers in relation to the value we receive from them,” Facebook said in a statement.
The case will have been watched closely by other world leaders as countries like the UK and Canada consider similar laws.
News companies have seen their sales decline in recent years. A review commissioned by the UK government found that Facebook and Google were adversely affecting the UK news media because they had such a large share of online advertising revenue.
The Australian government had hoped to rebalance with its new law but was faced with retaliation by Facebook.
After the news sites on the platform were blocked, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the company’s actions as “arrogant” and “disappointing”.
Facebook hit back, saying, “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.
“We face a difficult decision: We must try to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship or stop news content for our services in Australia. It is with a heavy heart that we choose the latter. “
Facebook already has its own “Showcase” product – Facebook News Tab – through which media company will pay a fee for displaying their stories on their platform. However, this feature is only available in the UK and US.
Google had also threatened to withdraw its primary search engine from Australia, but the company recently signed deals with local media companies like Nine Entertainment, Seven West Media, and Rupert Murdochs News Corporation.