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Facebook backtracks on Australian news ban after government negotiations

Facebook bans news in Australia
(Image credit: mundissima / Shutterstock)

After facing significant backlash, Facebook will reverse its ban on news content for Australian users and organisations on its site, according to a statement issued by the social media giant.

The initial ban, which came into effect last week on February 17, was a response to the Australian government’s proposed media bargaining code, which seeks to make tech giants such as Facebook and Google pay news media in Australia for linking to their content.

But Facebook has now reversed its controversial decision to pull all news for Australian users, and the Australian government says that Facebook, “intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days”.

The reversal comes after the Australian government made changes to the proposed code. One amendment states that news publishers and tech companies now have two months to negotiate on the amount to be paid before an independent arbitrator steps in as a last resort.

William Easton, Facebook’s managing director in Australia, said in a statement that, “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 recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them”.

While Australians can soon expect their news to make a reappearance in their feeds, it appears Facebook hasn’t ruled out the possibility of removing it again.

In a separate statement, Facebook’s VP of Global News Partnerships, Campbell Brown said that, “the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation”.

This story is developing.