Last week, several in Australia expressed shock after what could only be described as a 'drastic' step. In fact, users woke up to find an announcement by Facebook stating that it will stop sharing news in Australia. However, after an international backlash, the social media giant recalled its decision and has rolled out an official statement.
Facebook, in this announcement, stated that the declarations — repeated widely in recent days — that Facebook steals or publishes original journalism for its own benefit always were and remain false.
"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," said Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs at Facebook in a blog post late on Wednesday.
"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," Clegg argued.
"We neither take nor ask for the content for which we were being asked to pay a potentially exorbitant price. In fact, news links are a small part of the experience most users have on Facebook," he declared.
Facebook's ban was in response to the new media bargaining code that will force tech platforms to pay Australian media companies for the content users share (and that platforms earn ad revenue from)
There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between Facebook and news publishers at the heart of the issue.
To comply, Facebook had two options: provide open-ended subsidies to multi-national media conglomerates or remove news from our platform in Australia.
"Thankfully, after further discussion, the Australian government has agreed to changes that mean fair negotiations are encouraged without the looming threat of heavy-handed and unpredictable arbitration," the company said.
Facebook acknowledged that the decision to block news "wasn't a decision taken lightly".
"In doing so, some content was blocked inadvertently. Much of this was, thankfully, reversed quickly".
Clegg said that the internet needs new rules that work for everyone, not just for big media corporations.
"New rules only work if they benefit more people, not protect the interests of a few," he added.
(With inputs from IANS)