Friends Reunite As Facebook & Australia Make Up

Facebook will lift a block on news pages in Australia following a week-long standoff between the social media giant and the Australian Federal Government. It will return its site to normal after the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg agreed to make changes to new legislation targeting social media platforms.

The effect is to defuse Facebook's damaging confrontation with a national government and will have an impact on other social media platforms, notably including Google. 

The changes included a decision to officially designate a social platform under the proposed legal code, but take into account whether the technology  company has made a significant contribution to Australian journalism through commercial agreements with local news companies.

Under the revised code, a digital platform will be notified of the Government’s intention to designate, prior to any final decision being made and the decision on whether or not to officially recognsise a designated digital platform would be made, no sooner than one month from the date of notification. A final offer of arbitration will also be made as a last resort where commercial deals cannot be reached by requiring mediation.

"Importantly, the amendments will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms." Mr Frydenberg said in a statement.

The amendments to the proposed legislation will  encourage parties to engage in commercial negotiations with intention to rebuild sustainable public interest journalism in Australia, which has been undermined by the predominance of social media in delivering news.In response Facebook intends to restore Australian news pages.  "We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them," Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook says it will now negotiate deals with Australian publishers under its own model, called Facebook News, which was launched in October. It claims to have made deals with more than 50 Australian titles and more than 500 publishers globally, using its own model,  to date.

The case will have been watched closely by other world leaders as countries such as the UK and Canada are considering similar legislation. Google has been signing up Australia’s largest media companies in content licensing deals through its own News Showcase model.   

Facebook:      The West:        Sky:        Hollywood Reporter:        Time:     DevDiscourse: 

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