You know that big bully who goes around school with a menacing glare saying he’d beat up anyone who stepped in his way?
Well, sometimes, when a little guy stands up to him, the bully’s aggressive façade crumbles and he walks away sadly.
This is essentially what happened when Facebook attempted to bully Australia into submission.
It hoped Australia would yield to its demands, but now it seems that the very opposite has occurred.
Facebook Allowed News Website to be Shared in Australia Again After 8-Day Blackout
After an 8-day blackout of Australian news on its platform, Facebook has finally lifted its ban.
In other words, Facebook has re-friended Australia.
It also announced preliminary commercial agreements with three small Australian publishers – Schwartz Media, Solstice Media, and Private Media.
According to Reuters, the three companies own a mix of publications, including weekly newspapers, online magazines, and specialist periodicals.
So, why did Facebook ban Australian news sites in the first place?
Fighting Proposed Law That Would Make Them Pay Royalties to Publishers
As you know, many people get their news from links shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Over the years, several countries have expressed their disapproval of this arrangement, one of which is Australia.
The Australian government believes companies like Google and Facebook should pay local media outlets a “fair” amount for their journalism.
Right now, social media companies are making a lot more off advertising revenue than the publishers themselves.
According to the BBC, of every A$100 spent on digital advertising, A$81 goes to Google and Facebook.
That’s why Australia proposed a new law last year which would force the tech giants to pay royalties for news content shared on its platform.
This means they have to make financial arrangements with news companies before sharing articles on their platform.
Why the Change of Heart?
Facebook said it lifted the ban after having reassuring discussions with the government.
“Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to forced negotiation,” said Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships at Facebook.
“We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.”
Some, however, have pointed to the backlash Facebook received after its ban, with one Australian MP comparing the tech giant to North Korea.
Health experts also criticised the ban as it inadvertently blocked hospital and medical sites just days before Australia began its mass Covid-19 vaccination drive, and even removed content from some MPs in Australia.
If the ban was imposed to discourage other countries from passing a similar law, it may have backfired and antagonised some of Australia’s allies instead.
While Australia seems certain to pass the proposed law, it will make four further amendments, including one that states the government may not apply the law to Facebook if it can demonstrate a “significant contribution” to local journalism.
The government can also only enforce arbitration between Facebook and publishers after a two-month period, which will give both parties more time to reach a deal.
Meanwhile, Facebook will look to strike more deals with publishers, and is already in talks with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Yes, surprisingly, both sides seem to have found a solution to this issue.
All they needed to do was compromise.
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