Facebook says that it will unblock news content for Australian users in the coming days. In return, Australia will make amendments to a proposed law that Facebook bitterly opposed. It’s yet unclear who blinked first.
Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg today announced that Facebook has “re-friended” Australia. The company confirmed just as much in a public statement, noting it was pleased to reach an agreement with the government.
Facebook said Australia agreed to some changes and guarantees that address its core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them. That might be a roundabout way of saying news companies owe a lot of their traffic to Facebook, and Facebook gets relatively little in return.
Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice-president for Global News Partnerships, also explained in a separate statement that Facebook would retain the ability to decide if news that appears on the social media platform will be automatically subjected to forced negotiations.
Up until Monday, Australia said that it wouldn’t make any changes to the proposed law at the heart of its dispute with Facebook. Frydenberg claimed Google approved of the new changes, but Reuters said that a Google spokesperson declined to comment on the issue.
Last week, Facebook dramatically blocked all news content from its Australian users, sparking ire in the country and across the world. Its recent return to the negotiating table was perhaps spurred by the realisation that many other countries are watching and intend to follow in Australia’s footsteps.