: Facebook befriends Australia again, after striking a deal with Canberra government on new law

United States

The social-media company Facebook said on Tuesday that it would restore Australian news on its platform, after striking a deal with the Canberra government on a new law that will force big technology companies to pay for news.

  • Facebook last week had blocked Australian users from sharing and using news on its site, in protest against the government’s bill.
  • Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have since then negotiated a compromise on what Facebook called “a number of changes and guarantees” addressing the group’s concerns.
  • The changes notably involve the arbitration program that will be used if the tech groups don’t reach a deal with news publishers. The mandatory mechanism will now only be triggered after a two-month mediation period. 
  • Tech giant Google GOOGL, -1.65% has already signed a number of deals to pay for news on its own platform, including a landmark global agreement with News Corp NWSA, +3.82% that includes the company’s Australian newspapers. (News Corp owns MarketWatch, the publisher of this report.)
  • Facebook FB, -0.47% “has refriended Australia,” and it and Google have sought a “workable” code because “they know that the eyes of the world” are on the country, Frydenberg said on Tuesday.

The outlook: The agreement with the Australian government provides Facebook with a face-saving exit out of a tricky public relations situation, after the backlash triggered last week by its Australian boycott. The question now is whether the Australian law will serve as a model for other countries or regions of the world.