Facebook to lift Australian news ban ‘soon’ after reaching agreement with government

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Front pages of Australian newspapers are displayed featuring a stories about Facebook in Sydney, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. In a surprise retaliatory move Thursday, Facebook blocked Australians from sharing news stories, escalating a fight with the government over whether powerful tech companies should have to pay news organizations for content. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

CANBERRA, Australia — Facebook says it will lift its ban on Australians sharing news after reaching a deal with Australia’s government on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed Tuesday that they have agreed on amendments to proposed legislation that would make the social network and Google pay for the news that they feature.

Facebook blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news last week after the House of Representatives passed the draft law on Wednesday. The Senate will debate amended legislation on Tuesday.

“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 forced negotiation,” Campbell Brown, a vice president of global news partnerships at Facebook told the BBC. “We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.”

The law was passed with the intention to leveling the playing field between Facebook and local publishers, and protect the struggling journalism industry.

Frydenberg described the dispute over paying for news content as a “proxy battle for the world.”

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