Facebook to restore news pages in Australia after government agrees to amend proposed law


New Delhi: Days after Facebook removed pages of various news outlets from its platform, the standoff between the social media giant and the Australian government seems heading to a consensus.

Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday (February 23) said that Facebook will restore the news pages after the government offered amendments to the proposed law which aims to make tech companies pay for the media content they host on their platforms.

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Australia has introduced legislation challenging Facebook and Google’s dominance in the news content market.

In response to the move, Facebook last week blocked the accounts of news pages and several state governments and emergency departments on the social media platform.

A concession deal was struck after a series of talks between Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the weekend, Reuters reported.

According to the report, Australia will offer four amendments, which include a change to the mandatory arbitration mechanism used when the tech giants cannot reach a deal with publishers over fair payment for displaying news content.

“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,” Facebook said in a statement posted online.

The amendments include a two-month mediation period before the government-appointed arbitrator intervenes, giving the parties more time to reach a private deal.

It also inserts a rule that an internet company’s contribution to the “sustainability of the Australian news industry” via existing deals be taken into account.

“These amendments will provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the code is intended to operate and strengthen the framework for ensuring news media businesses are fairly remunerated,” Frydenberg said.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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