Facebook tried to restart negotiations with Australian news outlets a day after shutting down pages


Facebook tried to restart negotiations with Nine and News Corp just a day after banning news on its Australian site.

The US social media giant blocked Australian users from seeing and sharing local news last Thursday, in response to a new law to make tech giants pay media companies for news content on their sites.

Facebook, helmed by founder Mark Zuckerberg, also accidentally blocked the pages of domestic violence helplines, charities, government pages, and Covid information.

Facebook tried to restart negotiations with Nine and News Corp just a day after banning news on its Australian site. Pictured is Nine’s blocked Facebook page

Just a day after the online blackout, Facebook contacted Nine (pictured) and News Corp to discuss commercial deals

Just a day after the online blackout, Facebook contacted Nine (pictured) and News Corp to discuss commercial deals

But just a day after the online blackout, Facebook contacted Nine and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to discuss commercial deals, an inside source told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Two weeks before Australian news content was pulled off Facebook, the two media outlets were in talks with the tech behemoth.

But it’s unlikely News Corp or Nine will be able to reach an agreement with Facebook this week because no significant changes were discussed during the second negotiation phase.

As Facebook restricts the sharing of news in Australia, Google is striking a series of deals to pay for local journalism.

The Guardian was the latest publisher to sign an agreement with Google.

The internet giant has already struck multi-million dollar deals with Seven West Media, Nine, News Corp, and Australian Community Media.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is confident media bargaining legislation will sail through parliament without any more amendments to appease Facebook.

The proposed bargaining code is bound for the Senate after the government spent the weekend trying to negotiate a resolution with Mr Zuckerberg.

Senator Birmingham said there were some promising signs following the fresh round of talks.

‘We would urge Facebook to acknowledge that it should behave as we would expect any other re-publisher of content to behave,’ he told ABC radio on Monday.

The minister made it clear there would be no further changes to satisfy the social media giant.

It's unlikely News Corp or Nine will be able to reach an agreement with Facebook this week because no significant changes were discussed during the second negotiation phase

It’s unlikely News Corp or Nine will be able to reach an agreement with Facebook this week because no significant changes were discussed during the second negotiation phase

Facebook also inadvertently removed the pages of domestic violence help lines, charities, government pages and Covid information

Facebook also inadvertently removed the pages of domestic violence help lines, charities, government pages and Covid information 

‘We think the bill as it stands – that passed through the House of Representatives and into the Senate – is a bill that meets the right balance and serves the purpose of ensuring that Australian-generated news content by Australian news organisations can and should be paid for,’ he said.

‘Google has managed to do that with many media companies, there is no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has.’ 

Senator Birmingham directed his department to pull all digital advertising from Facebook until the company lifts restrictions on viewing news and information in Australia.

‘It is my expectation that we will pull back from advertising on Facebook while they undertake this type of terrible activity of pulling down sites inappropriately, of seeking to exert power or influence over our democratic systems,’ he said.

‘We won’t tolerate that and we will be standing firm on the legislation and also looking at all of those advertising arrangements.’  

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is confident media bargaining legislation will sail through parliament without any more amendments to appease Facebook

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is confident media bargaining legislation will sail through parliament without any more amendments to appease Facebook

Labor supports the temporary ban on Facebook advertising, which has been imposed at various departments.

Facebook’s vice president of public policy Simon Milner said Australians news could  make a comeback on the website.

‘On the issue of is this permanent, it really does depend on what law comes finally into effect. Once it goes through the Senate, our understanding was that the government had made its final amendments,’ he said.

‘If the law continues to make it unviable for us to have news on Facebook, there’s no basis on which we can change this. If the law were to change then that creates opportunities for us to feel confident about being able to have news on the service without being unfairly penalised by this law.’

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