What you need to know
- Facebook has shared "the real story" of what happened to its news service in Australia.
- It says it is thankful the Australian government has made amendments to its Media Bargaining Law.
- Facebook says it is willing to partner with news publishers and that there are "legitimate" concerns to be addressed about the power and size of tech companies.
Facebook has said it is thankful that the Australian government has made amendments to its "heavy-handed and unpredictable arbitration" in the form of a new Media Bargaining Law.
In a news post from Facebook's VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg the company stated:
Last week, in a move that will have felt abrupt and dramatic to many, Facebook announced it was stopping the sharing of news on its service in Australia. This has now been resolved following discussions with the Australian Government — we look forward to agreeing to new deals with publishers and enabling Australians to share news links once again.
Facebook says that the incident revolves around a "fundamental misunderstanding" of the relationship between Facebook and news publishers:
It's the publishers themselves who choose to share their stories on social media, or make them available to be shared by others, because they get value from doing so. That's why they have buttons on their sites encouraging readers to share them. And if you click a link that's shared on Facebook, you are directed off the platform to the publisher's website. In this way, last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million to the news industry.
Facebook says that any insinuation it steals content or journalism for its own benefit were false, further noting only one post in 25 seen on Facebook is a news story. Facebook says a new law in Australia would have meant Facebook "would have been forced to pay potentially unlimited amounts of money to multi-national media conglomerates under an arbitration system that deliberately misdescribes the relationship between publishers and Facebook — without even so much as a guarantee that it is used to pay for journalism, let alone support smaller publishers." Facebook compared it to making car manufacturers fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car "and letting the stations set the price".
Facebook says that "thankfully", following discussions with the Australian government, the law will be amended to implement "fair negotiations" without "without the looming threat of heavy-handed and unpredictable arbitration."
A WSJ report notes that Australia's legislation, amendments in tow, has cleared its last major parliamentary hurdle, from that report:
Australian legislation effectively requiring Facebook Inc. and Google to pay news outlets for content cleared its last major parliamentary hurdle, capping a multiyear effort that could set a global precedent for regulating the tech giants' relations with publishers.
Facebook notes that it is willing to partner with publishers, having announced a slew of deals with news outlets like The Guardian, Financial Times, Sky News, and more. You can read the full release here.