For five days, Facebook blocked news broadcast in Australia. The verified media pages were shown empty and users were restricted from publishing certain links through their profiles.
This blockade, which arose as a response by the social network to a legal initiative that would require payment for the syndication of this content, came to an end after direct talks between Mark Zuckerberg and the Government of Australia.
Restrictions loosened under pressure from Facebook
Through a Media Negotiation Code, the Australian Government intended, through a law, to regulate the relationship between the media and the web platforms that use or disseminate their content, requiring payment for their publishers.
Two companies highly committed to this initiative were Google and Facebook, due to their operational dynamics and volume of active users.
The strongest threat came in principle from Google, announcing that it would withdraw its search engine from the country if that law came into force. Ultimately, the flagship Alphabet affiliate opted to reach a trade agreement with almost 80 media, valued at 23 million dollars annually.
For its part, Facebook opted for a less conciliatory path and after exerting pressure similar to Google’s, ended materializing his ultimatum. Apart from the impossibility of viewing or sharing news content on the platform from Australian territory, also, outside the oceanic country, the Australian media are also blocked from sharing, including sources from other areas that also make mention of current affairs. country.
Facebook justified its measure, arguing that its case is different from that of Google, because in the case of the social network, the circulation of this content depends directly on the publishers.
The blockade lasted until February 22 and was deposed by Facebook after conversations between the founder and CEO of the company behind the social network, Mark Zuckerberg, and the treasurer of Australia, Josh Frydenberg.
«We are restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days“Campell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of news media alliances, said in a statement, adding that”After further discussions with the Australian Government, we have reached an agreement that will allow us to support publishers of our choice, including small and local publishers«.
The concessions obtained by Facebook after negotiating with Australia represent important changes with respect to the project that gave rise to the controversy. Publishers would initially have to receive advanced notice of changes to the algorithms that sort, prioritize and distribute their content. Now, under this new panorama, Brown commented that “the Government has clarified that we will retain the ability to decide whether news appears on Facebook”.
Among the reforms applied to the Australian Media Negotiation Code project, presented by Treasurer Frydenberg, stands out the observation that points out that the “digital platform” category to which these restrictions are directed is excluded, those portals that have made a significant contribution to Australian journalism.
Under this scenario, if Facebook closes a reasonable number of deals with local media publishers, it will be able to get back to business within the short timeframes promised. «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.“Said Campbell Brown of Facebook.