Facebook users in Australia can again share news links

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Facebook says it will restore the ability of Australian users to share links to news articles following a new deal with the local government.

The agreement, which gives Facebook and Canberra two more months to negotiate, ends a nearly weeklong period during which Facebook users in Australia could not access or share news stories on the platform.

Facebook had restricted news-sharing in response to impending legislation that would have required it to let an independent arbiter determine how much compensation it had to give to publishers for linking to their stories. Users could not share links or access news stories from Australian or global outlets.

The new deal includes amendments that give Facebook greater control over how it compensates publishers. “Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, said in a statement.

“The current arrangements allow greater flexibility for digital platforms and now encourages publishers to reach commercial agreements rather than racing to arbitration,” Facebook spokesperson Adam Isserlis told NBC News. “Arbitration is a true last resort.”

Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the amendments “will strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers in obtaining appropriate remuneration for the use of their content by the digital platforms.”

Facebook’s handling of the situation has differed from that of Google. The search giant recently announced several multi-million dollar deals with Australian publishers in order to avoid falling afoul of the impending legislation.

Google also said last week that it had reached a three-year deal with News Corp. to pay them for their content globally, not just in Australia.



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