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Facebook To Lift News Ban In Australia

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Almost a week after publishers and people in Australia were blocked from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content, Facebook said it will restore news on its platform for Australians in the coming days after reaching an agreement with the Australian government on their proposed new Media Bargaining law.

The social media giant said the move comes after the Australian government agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address its core concerns about allowing commercial deals with publishers.

The new changes and guarantees will allow Facebook to support the publishers they choose, including small and local publishers. It will also retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that it will not automatically be subject to a forced negotiation.

Facebook said it "will continue to invest in news globally and resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook."

The company believes that the proposed law introduced in Australia fails to recognize the fundamental nature of the relationship between its platform and publishers. Facebook does not steal news content and that publishers choose to share their stories on Facebook for finding new readers, getting new subscribers and driving revenue, it added.

In September last year, Facebook had threatened to impose the ban on users in Australia after Australia's consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or ACCC, came out with a draft News Media Bargaining Code.

The social media platform said it will be left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge it for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits.

Facebook has been postponing the introduction of its new Facebook News feature to Australia due to the regulatory stalemate and the release of the draft News Media Bargaining Code. The new code will force online platforms like Facebook and Google to pay local media outlets for displaying and linking to their content.

Facebook News is a feature on the platform exclusively for news, where Facebook pays publishers for their content. Since its launch in the U.S. last year, publisher partners have seen the benefit of additional traffic and new audiences.

Facebook News is being rolled out to more markets this year including Brazil, France, Germany, and India, beginning with the UK, which was launched in January as only destination outside the U.S. to get the feature. France and Germany are next in line.

Meanwhile, Alphabet-owned Google too has opposed the new Australian law and warned last year that it would provide its customers in the country with a "dramatically worse" Google Search and YouTube.

In response to the proposed new law, Google has recently entered into separate deals for news content with media companies like News Corp, Nine Entertainment Co. and Seven West Media.

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