Australia says Facebook has 'tentatively friended' them again

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Published: Feb 20, 2021, 03:06 PM(IST)

Morrison asserted that the decision was made on "health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest". Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Facebook's abrupt decision to stop Australians from sharing news on the site and strip the pages of domestic and foreign news outlets also erased several state government and emergency department accounts, causing widespread anger

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday said that social media giant Facebook has "tentatively friended us again." 

Facebook's abrupt decision to stop Australians from sharing news on the site and strip the pages of domestic and foreign news outlets also erased several state government and emergency department accounts, causing widespread anger.

Also read: Facebook, Australia hold talks following news ban

Morrison told a news conference in Sydney, "What I'm pleased about it that Facebook is back at the table again."

Facebook has publicly indicated no change in its opposition to a proposed law requiring social media platforms to pay for links to news content. 

Australia and Facebook conducted talks on Friday after the social media giant blacked out news for Australian netizens.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had spoken with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to resolve the issue at the earliest and negotiations would continue in the weekend. 

The stand-off comes as Australia's vows to press ahead with the landmark legislation, which could set a global precedent as countries like Canada express interest in taking similar action.

The Australian law, which would force Facebook and Alphabet Inc's Google to reach commercial deals with Australian publishers or face compulsory arbitration, has cleared the lower house of parliament and is expected to be passed by the Senate within the next week.

Simon Milner, Facebook’s Asia-Pacific policy director of policy for the Asia-Pacific region, was quoted on Saturday as telling the Sydney Morning Herald the company had three main objections to the legislation.

Facebook objects to being barred from discriminating between different news outlets that ask for money, to arbitration models that allow an independent body to select one payment over another, and to the obligation to enter commercial negotiations with Australian media companies, Milner said.

Google, which has initially threatened to close its search engine in Australia, has announced host of preemptive licensing deals over the past week, including a global agreement with News Corp.

Facebook's move had an immediate impact on traffic to Australian new sites, according to early data from New York-based analytics firm Chartbeat.

Total traffic to the Australian news sites from various platforms fell from the day before the ban by around 13 per cent within the country.

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