Facebook will once again make it possible for users in Australia to share and read news, Treasury Secretary Josh Frydenberg said Tuesday. The government has promised to make changes to the law that would require Facebook and Google to pay for links to news articles.
Australia and Facebook were at odds with each other over the bill. That feud culminated on Wednesday when Facebook decided without notice to make it impossible for Australian users to read or share news.
Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher said on Tuesday that the restrictions will be lifted within days after consulting the company. Australia has pledged to provide clearer guidelines on how news media and digital platforms should negotiate with each other. The country wants news platforms, which make money from news, to pay the media companies for links. This to the dismay of the tech giants.
According to Facebook, the Australian government has clarified some rules for them. “We keep the ability to decide which news appears on Facebook, so that we are not automatically obliged to negotiate (with news organizations, ed.)”, Said a representative from Facebook.
Australia’s Social Media Code of Conduct is seen as a pilot for legislation worldwide. Canada, among others, alludes to a similar law. In France, an agreement was signed this month between Google and news companies.
Australian news sites saw their visitor numbers drop by about 13 percent after the Facebook blockade. The number of foreign visitors who visited a news site via Facebook decreased by about 26 percent, the American data company Chartbeat calculated.