Facebook Comes Back to the Land Down Under

Facebook Lifts its Ban on Australian News

Facebook (FB) has reached a deal with the Australian government after the social media giant temporarily placed restrictions on how Australians could use the platform. Facebook had prohibited Australian users from sharing links to news articles in the country. It also barred users around the world from sharing links to Australian news sources.

Facebook took these measures because of a proposed law in Australia which would require search engines and social media companies to pay news outlets for displaying links to their content. Supporters of the law argue that tech companies generate enormous amounts of ad revenue because of the news content they display. Meanwhile, news companies are suffering financial hardships.

Falling Traffic for Publishers After Facebook Bans

The law in Australia was meant to help publishers, but traffic to Australian news sites dropped substantially after Facebook’s ban. Lawmakers came to the conclusion that if the social media company simply left the country instead of complying with the new law, publishers would face even greater difficulties than they already do.

In response, the Australian government added four amendments to the law and Facebook agreed to restore news sharing for Australians. The amendments give Facebook more freedom to negotiate deals with publishers independently.

Law Expected to Achieve its Original Goals

Google (GOOGL) has also been in tense negotiations with the Australian government surrounding the new law. At one point the search engine threatened to shut down its services in the country, but it was able to reach agreements with Australian news outlets before doing this.
The law in Australia is still expected to pass. Many lawmakers feel that, despite the amendments, the law will still be able to achieve its original goal of helping publishers, but it will not interfere with the way Australians interact with technology in their daily lives.

The law will still likely have an impact on relationships between tech companies and governments around the world. European lawmakers are in the process of drafting legislation that would require tech companies to pay for news. Microsoft (MSFT) has voiced support for these types of laws. On the other hand, while Google and Facebook have found strategies for moving forward in Australia, they are wary of legislation related to media on their platforms elsewhere.

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