Friends Again: Why Facebook Backed Down – 96five Family Radio

Friends Again: Why Facebook Backed Down

Less than a week after the social media giant cancelled the news in Australia, Facebook has again opened its doors to publishers.

By 96five Wednesday 24 Feb 2021

The news will soon be back in your feed.

On Tuesday (AEDT), Facebook announced that it had reached an agreement with the Government and will “restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days”.

The social media behemoth had banned the sharing of news content on its platform last week.

The stunning move came the day after the Australian Government’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code passed through the lower house.

The new laws will require all social media companies, such as Google and Facebook, to pay media outlets for using or posting their news.

The new laws will require all social media companies, such as Google and Facebook, to pay media outlets for using or posting their news.

Google has already reached multi-million dollar agreements with Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment Co. and News Corp Australia.

The lifting of the ban comes following discussions between Facebook and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher.

“We have consistently supported a framework that would encourage innovation and collaboration between online platforms and publishers,” Managing Director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand William Easton said in a statement.

Mr Easton added that the company was satisfied the Government “agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognise the value our platform provides to publishers, relative to the value we receive from them”.

So what is the News Media Bargaining Code?

On February 17, the Government pushed legislation through the House of Representatives that will force social media companies, such as Google and Facebook, to pay media outlets for using or posting their news.

The proposed laws are the first of their kind, with governments throughout the world closely monitoring how it is playing out in Australia.

Why was it introduced?

Mainly because of the loss of advertising revenue from traditional media companies.

“For every $100 of online advertising spend, $53 goes to Google, $28 goes to Facebook, and $19 goes to other participants,” – Treasurer Josh Frydenberg

“For every $100 of online advertising spend, $53 goes to Google, $28 goes to Facebook, and $19 goes to other participants,” Mr Frydenberg said last year.

When it banned the news, Facebook argued that it should not have to pay anyone, given publishers voluntarily use their platform as a free service to spruik their articles.

Google came to agreements, why not Facebook?

Facebook argued that the proposed law “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Mr Easton said.

What changed?

On Tuesday, the Government announced it had agreed to make changes to the proposed laws to satisfy Facebook’s demands.

“The Morrison Government will today introduce further amendments to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code,” said Treasurer Frydenberg.

The amendments, Mr Frydenberg said, “will provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the code is intended to operate and strengthen the framework for ensuring news media businesses are fairly remunerated.”

The amendments include more time to strike deals with companies. Further, should the two relevant parties reach a prior deal, the code does not come into play.

In the wake of the announcement, Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes revealed it had reached an agreement with Facebook.

“The establishment of this new partnership with Facebook is a significant move for our business and reflects the value of our original news content,” he said.

Does the code have bipartisan support?

Yes, but it has its detractors. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claims the code will give more power to giant media companies, such as Rupert Murdoch’s New Corp Australia.

“The problem with the Government’s current response… is that it seeks to solve one problem, by enhancing the power of the existing monopoly – that’s Murdoch,” said Mr Rudd during a Senate inquiry into the media.

When will the news return to feeds?

Following negotiations with its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook advised the Government “that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days,” Mr Frydenberg said.