Facebook signs deal with Australia to restore news

SYDNEY – Facebook Inc. has signed a contract with the Australian government to restore news pages on the social media company’s platform after a five-day ban was imposed for disagreement over payment for content.

Facebook Messages removed from its platform in Australia last week, when legislation Facebook and Alphabet Inc. would effectively oblige Google to do traditional media companies pay because the content worked its way through the country’s parliament. Legislation is widely watched around the world and could provide a model for other countries to force tech giants to pay for content.

Facebook received some legislative changes as part of the deal. This includes that an additional round of negotiations with media companies is required before the start of the binding arbitration process and that all agreements that Facebook makes with publishers themselves are better recognized, according to a government statement and government officials on Tuesday. In return, Facebook planned to restore news pages on its platform in Australia in the coming days, the statement said.

At a press conference, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told him the company intended to enter into trade deals with Australian media organizations to pay for content. It did so later on Tuesday when Australian television and newspaper company Seven West Media Ltd. stated it agreed to post messages to Facebook but without immediately giving details of the deal.

“There is no doubt that Australia was a proxy battle for the world,” Frydenberg said on Tuesday. “Facebook and Google haven’t hidden the fact that they know the world’s eyes are on Australia.”

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