Facebook announced on Tuesday that it was lifting the siege of news pages in Australia “in the next few days”. The government has agreed to amend the law to force technology companies to pay the media for their content.
Australian Finance Minister Josh Friedenberg and Facebook Australia CEO Will Easton said they had reached an agreement on one of the key aspects of the law, which is the first in the world and Internet companies are determined to oppose it.
“As a result of these changes, we can now work to increase our investment in public welfare journalism and recover Facebook messages for Australians in the days to come,” Easton said.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the Australian Government and appreciate the constructive discussions we have undertaken,” he added.
Last week, Facebook blocked the posting of links to news and media pages across the country.
Many official recovery services Facebook pages have also been inadvertently affected.
The retaliation provoked outrage in Australia and many other countries. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made no secret of his anger and accused Facebook of making an “hostile” decision.
In this country of 25 million people, there are 16 to 18 million Facebook users daily, according to local newspapers.
This agreement means that Facebook and Google will not be penalized until they reach agreements with the media in exchange for using their content.
That commitment was given an additional two months to negotiate.
“We have reached an agreement that will allow us to support select press groups, including small and local groups,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news associations.
From the very beginning, technology giants have expressed their opposition to the law, aiming to regulate the relationship between the traditional media and the monsters that dominate the Internet over major financial issues.
The giants of the digital sector do not want these negotiations with the media to be obligatory and an independent Australian arbitrator must rule during a conflict.
They feared a precedent that would threaten their economic model.
According to Australian competition officials, Google captures 53% of the ads in the country and Facebook 28% of the ads, while the rest is shared by other market players such as press groups, which is not enough to fund quality journalism.
The economic crisis caused by the corona virus epidemic exacerbated the press crisis. In Australia, dozens of newspapers have been shut down and hundreds of journalists lost their jobs.
Unlike Facebook, Google, which at one point threatened to shut down its search engine in Australia, agreed last week to pay “significant sums” in exchange for content from newsgroups, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Nine Entertainment.
There is no doubt that Australia is waging a proxy war for the whole planet, “said Friedenberg.
In fact, the whole world is closely following the Australian initiative. If Google and Facebook seem to have reached a solution in that country, it does not mean the end of their problems.
The European Union, Canada and other countries hope to regulate the sector.
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