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Australian media law: Facebook achieves change

Last week there was a scandal between Facebook and the government of Australia. The social network blocked domestic news content. The reason for the blockade was the country’s newly introduced media law. Now CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s company’s strategy has borne fruit. Government officials have announced a change in the law. The Australian journo is also pleased about this. Finally, news content is returning to Facebook – some of it, at least.

Happy agreement

It has been just under a week since the dispute between Facebook and the Australian government escalated. Now the dust has settled. Both parties have agreed on a compromise. An amendment to the Media Act is the result of the agreement. The social network is very pleased with the compromise that has been reached. Thus, William Easton, responsible for Facebook Australia and New Zealand, said that the changes now also take into account the value that journalistic content has for the social network.

Facebook is allowing news again

In the course of the changes, Facebook is now probably returning to daily business. And to this belongs now once also the publication of news. A blog post of the social network clarifies that now again an investment in journalism and an admission of appropriate news could come. However, not all news is affected by this softening. For example, the social network’s “Facebook Journalism Project” states the following:

“After negotiating with the Australian government, we reached an agreement that allows us to support those publishers we choose, including small and local publishers.”

This means that Facebook has decision-making power over which sources are published on the social network. Accordingly, there is no compulsion for the company to negotiate with all publishers. In this respect, Facebook has been able to achieve a significant relaxation of the original media law. Namely, in its original version, all journalistic sources were to sign a contract with Facebook that had an annual turnover of more than 150,000 Australian dollars.

Who gets royalties?

Already in December last year, the Australian government made clear its goodwill towards the social network as well as Internet giant Google. Concessions had been made in particular with regard to the monetization of redirects. Successful redirects are to be credited against the license fees. While the government’s words were harsh a week ago, they now sound almost flattering. Australia’s Finance Minister, for example, attested to the company’s commendable intentions on the subject of payment. He thanked CEO Markt Zuckerberg for the constructive talks. The government member described the process towards a compromise as difficult. Nevertheless, he said, the safeguarding of independent journalism through this agreement was successful.

Google also reaches agreement

In the media itself, most of the talk was about the dispute between the government and Facebook. But Google can also record an agreement through the amendment. The News Showcase service will now have its own payment model. Here, publishers receive payment for the presentation of published news. The search engine giant pays millions for this.

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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Berlin.

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