Facebook on Tuesday announced that it will lift a ban on the ability of Australians to view and share news on the internet platform – amid a potential deal between the Australian government and the tech giant and that would require the company to pay for journalism.

Last week, Facebook abruptly made the decision to block news on its platform across Australia following the passage of a draft law in the country’s House of Representatives. A side effect of the blackout was that it cut off Australians’ access to information on the pandemic, public health and emergency services. 

The standoff essential centered on the Australian government wanting Facebook to pay publisher for news content on its platform.

Legislation now making its way through the Australian government attempts to limit the exceptional bargaining power of companies like Facebook and Google when negotiating with Australian news providers.

The agreement Tuesday was reached after the Australian government clarified the intent of several parts of the draft bill. 

Google has been working on signing Australia’s largest media companies through content-licensing deals via its News Showcase, to avoid the issue that Facebook is currently experiencing. 

“We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days. 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,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president for news partnerships. The company added that the deal will allow Facebook to choose which publishers it supports, including small and local shops. 

Facebook says it will now enter negotiations with Australian publishers.

“We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them. As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days,” said William Easton, a regional Facebook manager.

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