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Facebook strikes last-minute deal with Australia around news content

Facebook said it struck this deal after the government finally agreed to change its media code.

Why it matters: The agreement ends Facebook's temporary ban on sharing news links on its platform in the country. Data showed that the link-sharing ban caused news traffic to plummet in the region.


  • The deal also ends ban on sharing links to Aussie news publishers globally on the platform.

Catch up quick: Facebook's decision to stop link-sharing was made in response to a new law that would have forced Google and Facebook to pay Australian news publishers for content. That includes headlines and links, with terms set by a third party.

  • While the law was intended to benefit publishers, the days following Facebook's link ban showed that if the tech giants refused to comply and instead opted to leave the country, it could've been even more problematic for local news companies long-term that relay on Facebook for traffic.

Between the lines: Facebook's agreement Monday effectively means that the new Australian media law will no longer need to go into effect.

  • Facebook instituted the link-sharing ban last week because it refused to operate news products in the country given the makeup of the new law.
  • In doing so, Facebook took the opposite approach from Google, which struck last-minute payout deals with big Australian publishers last week so that it wouldn't have to skirt the law and pull Google Search from the country.

What they're saying: "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," said Campbell Brown, Facebook's VP of News.

  • "We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days," she said.

Be smart: Facebook took particular issue with a baseball-style arbitration clause in Australia's new media code, which would see a government-appointed panel set the payout rate if the parties can't reach a deal.

  • Sources told Axios that the tech giant was worried that involving third-party arbitrators could help publishers successfully make unreasonable demands.

What's next: Moving forward, Brown says that the Australian government has clarified that the tech giant "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."

Go deeper: News traffic in Australia drops after Facebook link-sharing ban

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