Sunday, November 28

Australia v Facebook: Prime Minister Says Tech Giant “Back to Table” After Executive’s Apology | Facebook


Australia’s prime minister says Facebook is back on the negotiating table after the tech giant blocked news on its site in the country this week.

However, despite Scott Morrison saying that Facebook has “tentatively made us friends again,” the company has not publicly indicated any changes to its opposition to the proposed law requiring social media platforms to pay for links to content. news.

Facebook Asia-Pacific senior executive Simon Milner was forced to apologize on Friday after the company banned access to accounts run by government agencies and state health departments.

This came before the nationwide launch of the coronavirus vaccine starting Monday.

Morrison said Saturday that he appreciated Milner’s apology, adding that Facebook’s shutdown of public information accounts was indefensible.

“My job now is to ensure that we continue these discussions, that we bring them to a successful conclusion,” Morrison told reporters. “The Australian government’s position is very clear, people would know the strong international support for Australia’s position.

“I am pleased that Facebook has apparently decided to tentatively become friends with us again and to have those discussions resumed … to ensure that the protections we want to implement to ensure that we have a free and democratic society that is supported by a open news outlet can continue. “

Facebook initially claimed that it had no choice but to shut down the health and emergency services pages, arguing that the media’s trading code was poorly written. But then he vowed to roll back the bans on the inadvertently impacted pages.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday that he remained determined to convince Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to accept the media trading code. The couple spoke on Friday morning and will speak again over the weekend.

The American social media giant first threatened to ban Australians from the news in August and repeated the ultimatum ahead of a Senate investigation in January.

The ban restricts Australian users and publishers from viewing or sharing news, and foreign users will not be able to access Australian news.

“This has a lot to do with Australia’s sovereignty, it’s about Australia making laws for Australians, it’s very much about the rules of the internet and the digital world that replicate the rules of the physical world,” Frydenberg said.

Morrison said leaders of India, Canada and the United Kingdom were closely watching Facebook’s reaction to the media code.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said Thursday that his country will adopt the Australian approach as it drafts its own legislation in the coming months.

The Australian law, which would force Facebook and Google to reach trade deals with Australian publishers or face mandatory arbitration, has been approved by the lower house of parliament and is expected to be approved by the Senate within the next week, a despite Labor criticizing the government for its handling of negotiations with digital platforms.

Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese said Facebook needed to accept that media companies should be paid for content to keep journalism alive, and said the company’s ban on news content would damage its reputation.

At a parliamentary inquiry hearing on Friday, both News Corp CEO Michael Miller and Nine CEO Hugh Marks called on the government to stick to their plan to legislate the media bargaining code.

Miller said the full impact of Facebook’s bans has yet to be understood.

The US State Department said on Saturday it viewed Australia’s dispute with Facebook as a private business matter for the two parties.

Google, which initially threatened to shut down its search engine in Australia, announced a series of preemptive license agreements over the past week, including a global agreement with News Corp.

Facebook’s move had an immediate impact on traffic to new Australian sites, according to early data from New York-based analytics firm Chartbeat.

Total traffic to Australian news sites from various platforms fell from the day before the ban by around 13% within the country.

Australian Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


www.theguardian.com

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