Treasury Secretary Josh Friedenberg said on Tuesday that Facebook will once again enable users in Australia to share and read the news. The government has pledged to make changes to the law requiring Facebook and Google to pay for links to news articles.
Australia and Facebook were at odds with each other over the bill. The spat culminated on Wednesday when Facebook decided, without warning, to make it impossible for Australian users to read or share the news.
Friedenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said on Tuesday that restrictions will be lifted within days after consulting with the company. Australia has pledged to provide clearer guidance on how news media and digital platforms can negotiate with each other. The state wants the news platforms, which make money from the news, to pay media companies for the links. This frustrates the tech giants.
According to Facebook, the Australian government has clarified some rules for them. A representative from Facebook said: “We reserve the ability to determine what news appears on Facebook, so that we are not automatically obligated to negotiate (with news organizations, editor).”
The Australian Social Media Code of Conduct is seen as an experimental model for legislation around the world. Canada, among others, is hinting at a similar law. In France, an agreement was signed this month between Google and the news companies.
Australian news sites saw their visitor numbers drop by nearly 13 percent after Facebook was banned. According to an account by US data company Chartbeat, the number of foreign visitors who visited a news site on Facebook decreased by 26 percent.
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