Facebook Wins Standoff With Australian Government

Facebook announced an agreement with the Australian government to pay Australian news organizations for their news articles. The government compromised with Facebook, agreeing that Facebook retains the right to make decisions about news on Facebook in exchange for supporting Australian news organizations.

News links and posts are returning to Australian users of Facebook.

Facebook Rescinds Australian News Ban

Last week Facebook announced the dramatic banning of news for Australian members of Facebook. The reason was to avoid being governed by a law that would force Facebook to pay for Australian news organizations for sharing links on Facebook and profiting from those links.

Facebook called the proposed law a failure to understand the relationship between Facebook and news organizations.

Today Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships announced that Facebook had reached an agreement.

According to the announcement:

“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.

We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days.

Going forward, 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.

It’s always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we’ll continue to invest in news globally and resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook.”

“Media Conglomerates” a Reference to Rupert Murdoch?

Facebook’s announcement said that it would, “…resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks…” but without mentioning specific media conglomerates.

One of the biggest media conglomerates in Australia is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which has been alleged in news articles to be the one behind the Australian government attempt to shake down Google and Facebook on behalf of Australian news organizations.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

“News Corp has successfully lobbied the government. A compulsory code being created to make Google and Facebook pay for the use of news content is just one example of an issue News Corp lobbied hard for. “

So when Facebook made reference to resisting “media conglomerates, that may have been a reference to Rupert Murdoch and News Corp and the alleged backroom lobbying to extract money from Google and Facebook.

The law itself was meant to benefit local journalism. But an Australian government analysis of the law found that as it was written the news organizations were free to spend the money in any manner they deemed fit.

According to the analysis:

“…it remains to be seen whether any benefit gained by the registered news businesses is used to support public interest journalism.”

The proposed law allowed news organizations to pocket the money without in any way benefiting public interest journalism.

Facebook Wins

The fight between Australia and Facebook was important because it could have served as a blueprint for other countries to extract money from Facebook. The new agreement keeps Facebook from being subjected to automatic negotiations.


Read the official Facebook Statement