Facebook Restores News Content In Australia


Facebook Restores News Content In Australia

OVERVIEW

Facebook lifts the ban on news contents in Australia as had been declared by the tech-giant on Thursday. It restored the ability of the Australian users to share or watch news contents from their Facebook accounts, after a prolonged discussion about such ban or declaration with the US Government. The ban was on local and international news contents as well, including the New York Times. The said ban was in connection with a recent legislation passed by the Australia House of Representatives known as News Media Bargaining Code on the 17th of February, 2021. The Code is to make not only Facebook but also Google to pay Australian Media Companies for using their news content. The Prime Minister of Australia recognised the law to be first of its kind and was confident of other countries around the world would follow his footsteps in formulating such legislations.

BACKGROUND 

  • The Australia House of Representatives passed a bill known as News Media Bargaining Code and it become a law after being passed with a majority in the Senate.
  • Pursuant to this legislature, global tech companies like Google and Facebook are to pay to Media Houses in order to share, post, or view news contents in their accounts.
  • In strict refusal to adhere to such a law, Australia saw a ban on sharing, viewing and posting news contents.
  • Facebook contributes to a lot of traffic in the news data and it adds to a lot of significance in the news.
  • The Australian Prime Minister and the administration initially refused to change any provisions of the ensuing law.
  • In the later stage, seeing as the media houses were losing value because of inaction in their Facebook pages, it was decided to negotiate a few provisions.
  • As a result, Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, on behalf of the Government met with the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to come to an agreement about the provisions of the landmark law.
  • Post negotiation, Facebook has announced that it would be lifting its ban on sharing, posting or viewing news contents or their links from their platform.
  • The treasurer termed the lifting of the ban as “ Facebook re-friending Australia.”

FURTHER DETAILS

On initial banning of news content country-wide in Australia, the Prime Minister said in a statement, "Facebook's actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.” Such action by Facebook was supported by William Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand who wrote that users and news organisations in Australia are “now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content” on the platform. This would the be the first time that Facebook is restricting an entire country from sharing news content on the site.

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government met with the Facebook officials and made last minute changes to the provisions of the proposed ‘World-first Code’ before it is passed by the Senate to become a law.

“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,” Facebook said in an updated statement.

CONCLUSION 

The News Media Bargaining Code saw its root in the researched report by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2017, which stated “[We’re seeing] reduced production of particular types of news and journalism, including local government and local court reporting, which are important for the healthy functioning of the democratic process. There is not yet any indication of a business model that can effectively replace the advertiser model, which has historically funded the production of these types of journalism in Australia.”

When the Code was finally passed in the House of Representatives and was awaiting passage by the Senate in order to become a law, was the appropriate time to reach into an agreement which works to the optimum benefit of the related parties and owing to such negotiated agreement, the ban was lifted by Facebook and such intimation was given by the officials via an announcement from their end.

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION REGARDING THE ACT BY FACEBOOK? WHAT DO YOU THINK SUCH BAN AND ITS SUBSEQUENT LIFTING SIGNIFIES? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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