Facebook issues chilling warning to Australia as it returns news back to its website just eight days after the social media juggernaut sensationally tore down millions of pages
Facebook has reversed its controversial ban on Australian news a week after removing millions of posts but not without warning content could be taken down again at anytime.
The federal government’s landmark media law received the final tick of approval on Thursday when parliament’s lower house agreed to the government’s changes, which were made after negotiations with Facebook and Google.
The lifting on the ban came into effect 1am on Friday.
The company’s vice-president Campbell Brown said Facebook retained its right to take Australian news content down again in the future.
It comes after a tumultuous battle between the Australian government and the tech giants who both threatened to limit services across the nation if the bill was passed.
Facebook has agreed to restore Australian news on its site after agreeing to pay for content
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg described it as a significant milestone.
‘This legislation will help level the playing field & see Australian news media businesses paid for generating original content,’ he tweeted on Thursday.
The social media platform was condemned by politicians and users around the world after it blocked 25million Australians from viewing and sharing news articles on February 18 amid a dispute about the terms of the code.
The ‘arrogant and disgraceful’ move – which also banned charity, health authority and emergency service pages – came after Australia’s ground-breaking news media bargaining code passed the lower house of Parliament on February 17.
Following talks with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, the government made some last-minute changes to the law before it was finalised on Thursday which appeased the tech giant and convinced it to undo the ban.
Facebook has advised the government it will restore Australian news pages. Pictured: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with wife Priscilla Chan
‘Obviously that was a major engineering feat for them to wipe the Facebook platform of Australian news media content,’ Mr Frydenberg told 2GB on Thursday.
‘I think there was understandable outrage across the broader community as to what Facebook did.
‘But since that time there’s been extensive discussions with the company and we’ve reached a solution and a way forward.’
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese tried claim some of the credit.
‘The government and the opposition and this parliament have been prepared to take tough decisions,’ he told reporters.
‘We have been prepared to stand ground, to legislate for a code and to do that in order to defend Australia’s national interests and defend the jobs of journalists.
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims is confident the heavily amended code will still curtail the immense market power of digital platforms.
‘Google and Facebook need media but they don’t need any particular company and that (previously) meant media companies couldn’t do commercial deals with Facebook or Google,’ he told ABC radio on Thursday.
‘The purpose of the code is to give them the potential for arbitration, which helps their bargaining position, and therefore helps them reach fair commercial deals.’
So far, large media organisations including News Corp and Nine have been the main beneficiaries of deals struck with the online behemoths.
Mr Sims is not surprised.
‘In any situation like this you would expect deals to be done with the bigger players first and then work down the list,’ he said.
Google responded to the new law by striking multi-million deals but Facebook banned Australians from viewing news on its website last week in a ‘disgraceful’ protest at the new rules. Pictured: Posts were blocked on the Daily Mail Australia Facebook page