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Facebook reverses Australian ban on sharing news

Facebook reverses Australian ban on sharing news
epa09020239 An illustration image shows a phone screen with the Facebook logo and Australian Newspapers at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 18 February 2021. Social media giant Facebook has moved to prohibit publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content in response to Australia's proposed media bargaining laws. EPA/LUKAS COCH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Facebook will lift the ban on Australian users sharing news in the coming days (Credits: EPA)

Facebook has agreed to lift its ban on users in Australia sharing news links with others after reaching an agreement with regulators.

The tech giant imposed the block last week after a drawn-out battle with lawmakers over paying media organisations for their journalism.

Australia’s government condemned the decision, which also prevented the sharing of some government communications – including messages about emergency services – as well as some commercial pages.

However, now a deal has been reached that will see Facebook re-introduce the ability to share news in the coming days.

Australia’s government announced on Tuesday that Facebook has agreed to lift its ban on Australians sharing news after a deal was struck on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism.

Aussie treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook both confirmed in statements that they had reached agreement on amendments to the proposed legislation on paying for news.

‘The government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days,’ Mr Frydenberg and communications minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: In this photo illustration a message is seen on Facebook mobile, on February 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers and users in Australia from posting and sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing or using content on their platforms. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Facebook initiated the block after the Australian government asked it to start paying for journalism (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Google, meanwhile, has been signing up Australia’s largest media companies in content licensing deals through its News Showcase model.

The platform says it has struck deals with more than 50 Australian titles through Showcase and more than 500 publishers globally using the model which was launched in October.

Facebook said it will now negotiate deals with Australian publishers under its own model, Facebook News.

‘We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them,’ Facebook’s regional managing director, William Easton, said in a statement.

‘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,’ he added.