Facebook announced on Tuesday that will raise “in the next few days” the blocking of news pages in Australia, after the Government of that country agreed to amend the law intended to force tech giants to pay the media for their content, according to official sources.
Australian Finance Minister Josh Frydenberg and Facebook Australia CEO Will Easton stated that they reached an agreement on one of the key points of that law, which it is the first of its kind in the world and which the internet giants oppose, the AFP agency reported.
“As a result of these changes, we can now work to boost our investment in public interest journalism and reestablish Facebook news for Australians in the coming days,” said Easton, who celebrated the agreement and said Facebook appreciates “the constructive discussions. that we had “.
Last week, Facebook blocked the posting of links to news and media pages across the country, a move that sparked outrage in Australia and many countries.
This is what an Australian media looked like last week: “there are no posts yet.” Photo Niemanlab
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made no secret of his anger and accused Facebook of having made a “hostile” decision.
The law that generated the controversy seeks to regulate relations between traditional media in financial difficulties and large companies that dominate the Internet, which refused to make these negotiations mandatory and that in case of conflict an independent Australian arbitrator would rule.
The tech giant has between 16 and 18 million daily users in this country of 25 million inhabitants, according to the local press.
There is agreement
Google joined in the criticism. AFP photo
The agreement reached supposes that Facebook and Google will not be sanctioned as long as they reach agreements with the media in exchange for the use of their contents, and granted an additional period of two months to negotiate those commitments.
“We reached an agreement that will allow us to support the press groups that we choose, including small and local“said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president in charge of global news partnerships.
According to the Australian competition authorities, Google captures 53% of advertising in the country and Facebook 28%, while the rest is shared out by other market players, such as press groups, which is insufficient to finance quality journalism.
The press crisis was aggravated by the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and in Australia dozens of newspapers closed and hundreds of journalists lost their jobs.
Unlike Facebook, Google, which at one point had threatened to suspend its search engine in Australia, last week agreed to pay “significant sums” in return for the content of press groups, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and Nine Entertainment.
Google and Facebook had joined together in rejecting this law, because they say that “does not reflect how the Internet works and unfairly penalizes their platforms. “
Facebook said it helped Australian publishers earn around AU $ 407 million last year through referrals. But for himself “the profit from the news platform is minimal.”