The Australian

Aussie news content refriended from Friday

- JAMES MADDEN DAVID SWAN

Australian news content will return to Facebook on Friday, eight days after the social media giant banned it from the feeds of the digital platform’s local users.

“I think there was understand­able outrage across the broader community as to what Facebook did,” Josh Frydenberg said on Thursday night, adding that he understood the blackout would end before the weekend.

“Since that time, there’s been extensive discussion­s with the company and we’ve reached a solution and the way forward.”

The return of Australian news to Facebook follows the final passage of the federal government’s mandatory news media bargaining code into law on Thursday, which brought to a close a threeyear campaign to ensure that digital platforms including Google and Facebook fairly remunerate media companies for the original content they generate. The law is primarily intended to address the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and digital platforms, and to sustain public interest journalism.

The bill was passed by the House of Representa­tives on Thursday morning, after the amended legislatio­n was approved by the Senate the previous night.

On Thursday, Facebook’s global policy chief Nick Clegg said the company planned to invest an extra $US1bn in the news industry over the next three years as a sign of commitment to journalism. “Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers. We absolutely recognise quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function — informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful to account,” he wrote in a blog post.

Facebook has already announced a commercial deal with Seven West Media, and is in ongoing discussion­s over similar arrangemen­ts with News Corp Australia, Nine, the Guardian Australia, ABC and SBS.

Facebook’s decision to ban Australian news content from its platform over the past week may have resulted in significan­t reputation­al damage. Digital and creative agency GrowthOps surveyed more than 500 Australian Facebook users and found the social media giant’s decision to remove local news content from their feeds was not well received. “A staggering 91 per cent of Australian­s are aware of the news media ban instigated by Facebook, which gives you a sense of both Facebook’s reach (and) the appetite the media has for covering the story,” GrowthOps digital general manager John Yanny said.

“The research found 56 per cent think Facebook’s news media ban was unjustifie­d, while 36 per cent threatened to leave the platform. Only 19 per cent say they trust Facebook.”

Last week, Google announced a series of commercial deals with major commercial news media companies in Australia.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the Treasurer and Communicat­ions Minister Paul Fletcher said the news media bargaining code — which will be used as a tool of final arbitratio­n if news media organisati­ons and digital platforms fail to reach commercial deals — was “world-leading”.

“The code is a significan­t micro-economic reform … that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.”

‘A staggering 91 per cent of Australian­s are aware of the news media ban instigated by Facebook’

JOHN YANNY GROWTHOPS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia