Facebook on Tuesday announced that it will lift the controversial ban on Australian news pages in the coming days after the government agreed to amend a law requiring digital platforms to pay news media companies whose content they host, AFP reported.
“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,” Facebook Australia Managing Director Will Easton said.
The agreement was finalised by Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Financial Review reported, citing unidentified officials. The details of the agreement are not clear yet. The social media giant had begun negotiations with Australian media companies days after blocking access to news on its platform.
Facebook announced last week that it had blocked Australians from sharing news on the social media platform. The ban was a direct response to the Australian federal government’s news media code legislation.
Facebook also ended up accidentally blocking non-news pages linked to charities to emergency services, according to AFP. The move drew heavy criticism from across the world.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said that Facebook’s actions were “arrogant as they were disappointing”. “These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them,” he had added.
Morrison also spoke to his Indian and Canadian counterparts, Narendra Modi and Justin Trudeau, about the decision to make digital platforms pay for news.
Total traffic to the Australian news sites from various platforms fell from the day before the ban by around 13% within the country and by about 30% outside the country, Chartbeat data showed. Similarly, traffic to the Australian news sites from Facebook alone plummeted from around 21% to about 2% within Australia, and from around 30% to about 4% outside the country.