Facebook agrees to reverse news ban on Australian sites after striking deal with federal government

Facebook has agreed to restore Australian news pages following a new deal with the federal government.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg finalised the agreement on Tuesday morning, according to industry sources.

Facebook last week abruptly blocked publishers and users in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content. 

The block, which was widely condemned across the globe, was in response to Australia’s mandatory bargaining code, which sought to make tech giants compensate news publishers. 

Facebook said it was restoring news content after the government agreed to amend the code. 

“The amendments will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms,” the government said in a statement. 

“The government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days.”

Users navigating to news pages during the ban found generic grey bars where custom cover photos used to sit, and the message “no posts yet” in place of news content and shared stories. 

Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Will Easton, said the company was pleased to reach an agreement with the government. 

We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers,” he said in a statement. 

“After further discussions, 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.”

More to come.

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