Australia govt, Facebook clash over
Canberra – The war between Facebook and the Australian government is over.
Australian news will return to the social media giant’s platform, and it will reach deals to pay news groups for their stories.
So, who won this titanic battle and how will that play out around the world?
The former boss of Facebook in Australia is pretty clear.
“I’d say Facebook may have blinked a bit here,” Stephen Scheeler told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“I think there’s no question that global backlash against this was pretty stern.
“And I think Facebook probably observed that governments around the world were taking a harder line maybe than they had anticipated.”
Australia had support not only from other governments, which wanted to see Mark Zuckerberg’s company taken down a peg, but even from another tech firm that has previously been in regulators’ sights itself.
Earlier this month, Microsoft came out in strong support of the new media law.
Its president Brad Smith wrote: “The legislation will redress the economic imbalance between technology and journalism by mandating negotiations between these tech gatekeepers and independent news organisations.”
Cynics might point out it’s not surprising Microsoft backed a law framed specifically to affect two of its biggest rivals.
After all, at a time when Google was threatening to leave Australia altogether, Microsoft was telling the Australian prime minister that its search engine Bing would be happy to fill the gap and contribute to the news industry.
But a spokesman for the company said that its stance had always been based on principle.
For its part, Facebook says it’s happy with the amendments to the law.
It believes they will put an end to the idea that the government should set the terms of a deal between private companies.
“It gives us the ability to strike commercial deals on terms that make sense which is what we wanted,” says one insider. (BBC)