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Facebook 1: Australia: 0

Paul Brislen, Editor. 24 February 2021, 7:16 am

While the Australian government seems content to call it a huge win, the media outlets are trumpeting Facebook's decision to allow Australian news outlets back on its platform.

It's clear that Facebook is the big winner out of the Australian government's amendments to its upcoming News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

The Code will require Facebook and Google in particular to pay professional news media outlets (those designated as such by the Australian government) to share news content on their platforms.

Initially both Google and Facebook revolted but Google quickly did some maths and worked out it was cheaper to pay a few dollars to news outlets than it was to pay its army of lawyers to fight through the court system.

Facebook, however, did not blink and calmly told the Australian public that it would no longer allow anyone to share Australian news content on its platform, and its definition of news was so broad that it included several state and regional local authorities, rural fire departments and a myriad of other important institutions.

Now the Australian government has amended the Code and Facebook will graciously allow news organisations to pay it to share their content once again.

The Code now allows the government to decide whether or not to include Facebook in the Code's provisions on the basis that it will have "made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses". If the government does decide to include Facebook in the Code's grasp it will give the platform a month's notice and Facebook is free to offer different rates to different media outlets.

Any potential cooperative bargaining power the Australian government was introducing to the process has been laid aside and Facebook can now decide which media outlets it will support and how much it will pay.

The Code is now expected to come into force later this year.


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