(Pocket-lint) – Facebook has backtracked on its ban on news content being shared in Australia. 

The move came about because of draft Australian legislation designed to force platforms like Facebook and Google to pay for news content – to “level the playing field”  for publishers who have seen profits slide. Several other countries have toyed with the idea of similar legislation, so it’s interesting to see what happens in the future. 

Google had also threatened to block its search engine from Australia, but it instead agreed deals with Australian media company’s Nine Entertainment, Seven West Media and, most notably, News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Essentially, this boils down to an argument over whether Facebook or Google are merely enabling people to link to content elsewhere or if they are really profiting from effectively publishing the content themselves. 

In reality though, things aren’t quite that simple, of course but linking to other content is regarded as a key principle of the web and would potentially have had wider implications. 

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg held talks with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who told him the ban would end “in the coming days” according to the BBC. The ban was only introduced last Thursday and the unseemly episode has certainly had a detrimental effect on Facebook’s reputation in Australia and beyond. 

Facebook claims it doesn’t really profit from news content, but looking at anybody’s newsfeed it is clear that the lack of sharing of news content makes Facebook less compelling. However, as part of the agreement and amendments to the legislation, Facebook will have to demonstrate a a “significant contribution” to local journalism according to the BBC. 

Apple chief Tim Cook recently criticised Facebook and other social networks, labelling them “purveyors of fake news and peddlers of division” in a recent speech. 

Writing by Dan Grabham.





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