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Facebook Has “Re-friended” Australia By Allowing News Content Again

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Facebook announced a truce with the Australian government as it restores Australian publishers to access its platform for distributing news. This Tuesday marks the end of the tensed standoff between both parties.

In response to the Australian legislation that demands Facebook to pay for news, the social media company had to restrict Australians from publishing news contents on Facebook.

The Australian government took considerations in the amendment of its proposed media bargaining code centred on its content payment policy. They did the modification in line with Facebook concerns following the negotiations with the Australian government.

The Australian ruling party supported their Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, to amend its proposed news policy. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian government pushed to support the proposed bill to reach parliament the next day, Wednesday.

Two months are reserved for negotiating the amendment to the proposed media bargaining code — enough time for Facebook and the Australian publishers to sum up a fair commercial deal. In contrast, the lengthy period set for negotiations is fair enough for Facebook. It gives the social media company an edge to counter a coerced arbitrary deal — as the legislation proposed the bill.

Facebook also agreed to restore Australian content and users to access news on its social platform. The social media company also noted that they would support Australian publishers based on their terms, including small-time and big publishers.

“Facebook has refriended Australia, and Australian news will be restored to the Facebook platform,” the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, shared his opinion on Tuesday. “Facebook has committed to entering into good faith negotiations with Australian news media businesses and seeking to reach agreements to pay for content,”

According to Facebook’s vice president and arbitrator, Campbell Brown, “Facebook is not automatically subject to a forced negotiation.”

Prior to the recent truce, Facebook banned Australians from accessing its News Feed. It sounds like a mild case scenario — government agencies, NGOs, business, or anything involving Australian content was restricted from Facebook, including its official page.

On behalf of the Australian government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison protested against Facebook — he noted that big tech firms become irrational with decisions with beliefs that the government can’t control them.

While the social media company claims otherwise — the Australian legislation instigated Facebook’s decision to ban Australians from accessing Facebook. The Australian government “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”

The initial content policy demanded both Facebook and Google to conclude the terms in which they intend to share their revenue with their domestic publishers.

Before Google proceeded with the multi-million dollar fund they issued to major Australian publishers, they also threatened to leave the Australian tech industry that turned out to be a bluff.

Few days after Facebook rolled out its ban, they went on to meet with other Australian publishers to settle on a deal, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Group Nine Media.  Facebook then introduced a clause they dubbed the “poison pill” that Interrupted the negotiations.

Facebook’s poison pill allows the social media company to nullify any deal signed with Australian publishers, including enacting the new content payment law.

Just as Facebook retract their initial ban, the social media company expected to proceed with the adjourned negotiation they had with the Australian publishers. Frydenberg is expecting Facebook to announce a commercial deal anytime soon.

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