Facebook 23, Kathmandu
Facebook said Tuesday it will lift a ban on Australian news pages after the government agreed to amend a world-first law requiring tech giants to pay media companies.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook said a compromise had been reached on key aspects of the law, which was fiercely opposed by the tech companies.
"As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism, and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days," said Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia.
Social media, google, and Facebook outraged last week by blacking out news for the Australian users and inadvertently blocking a series of non-news Facebook pages linked to everything from cancer charities to emergency response services.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had angrily accused Facebook of making a decision to "unfriend" Australia.
As parliament looks set to pass the law this week which means that Facebook and Google, which was also targetted, will not be penalized so long as they reach some deals with local media firms to pay for news.
They will also get an additional two months to broker those agreements.
"We're pleased that we've been able to reach an agreement with the Australian government and appreciate the constructive discussions we've had," said Easton.
The tech firms had fiercely opposed the legislation from the get-go, fearing it would create international precedent that would threaten their business models.
"There is no doubt that Australia has been a proxy battle for the world," said Frydenberg.
In particular, the companies objected to rules that made negotiations with media companies mandatory and gave an independent Australian arbiter the right to impose a settlement.
"We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers," said Facebook vice president for global news partnerships Campbell Brown.
Despite earlier threats to pull its services from Australia over the legislation, Google had already softened its stance and brokered deals worth millions of dollars with a host of local media companies, including the two largest: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and Nine Entertainment.
Facebook and Google still face the prospect of having to agree deals with media around the world, as the European Union, Canada and other jurisdictions move to regulate the sector.
For every $100 spent by Australian advertisers today, $49 goes to Google and $24 to Facebook, according to the country's competition watchdog.
Thousands of journalism jobs and scores of news outlets have been lost in Australia alone over the past decade as the sector watched advertising revenue flow to the digital players.