Facebook agrees to pay for news content in Australia

Tuesday, February 23
Michael Hennessey and Agencies

Facebook has agreed to lift its ban on Australians sharing news after a deal was struck with the Australian government that would make them pay for digital journalism.

In a statement on Facebook's corporate site, Campbell Brown, vice-president of global news partnerships, said: ”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."

Facebook blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news last week after the Australian federal government passed a draft law which would require Facebook and Google pay for news content on their platforms.

Some sectors within the media have accused Facebook's decision to block news content akin to acting like a ‘schoolyard bully.’    

Facebook had argued that news made up less than 4% of the content that people see on the site.

The digital giant argued that they generated approximately 5.1 billion links to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million.

Facebook claimed that the law "seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn’t take or ask for."

However, in a statement released yesterday, Facebook said: “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.”