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Facebook lifts news links ban in Australia as deal hammered out

23 Feb 2021 / technology Print

Facebook to lift news link ban as deal hammered out

Facebook is to lift its ban on linking to news stories from Australian media organisations, after a payment deal was hammered out.

A stand-off with the Government over payment to media organisations for the use of their content had resulted in a shutdown of news links by Facebook Australia for the past five days.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook said a compromise had been reached on key aspects of the proposed law to enforce payment for news on the platform.

As the Australian parliament is on the brink of passing the new law, the compromise means that tech giants Facebook and Google will pay local media firms for news.

Google had earlier agreed to payment terms for linking on its search engine to material from news organisations, despite earlier threats to pull its services from Australia over the new laws.

Two-month window

It is understood there is a two-month window for payment terms to be agreed by Facebook.

“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,” said Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia.

The blocking of news link by Facebook last week was seen as a test case for the future relationship between tech giants and news organisations.

The platform inadvertently blocked several public-health information sites, as part of the shutdown, a move which drew adverse commentary.

Proxy battle

“There is no doubt that Australia has been a proxy battle for the world,” said Frydenberg, after agreement was reached.

The tech giants objected to provisions that made negotiations with media companies mandatory and gave an Australian regulator the power to impose settlement terms.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland