Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:53

Facebook allowed to decide if it will use news and the sources as well Featured

Facebook allowed to decide if it will use news and the sources as well Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

ANALYSIS Despite all the brave talk emanating from Canberra, Facebook has comprehensively dictated the terms under which it will restore news content to Australians.

The company has been told that it can decide whether news appears on the site at all, and also been assured it will not be forced to negotiate with news publishers.

In other words, the news media code — officially known as the News Media and Digital Platforms Bargaining Code — will not apply to Mark Zuckerberg's company if it so chooses.

Several news outlets, which are government backers have been busy pumping up the tyres for both Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison who have caved in and used words to paint a picture that is, as usual, somewhat different from the reality.

Frydenberg announced in Canberra earlier today that a deal had been cut so that news feeds could be restored to Australians.

Facebook's vice-president of Global News Partnerships, Campbell Brown, did not mince her words about what the company had been told.

In a statement issued a little while ago, Brown said: ”After further discussions with the Australian Government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.

"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.

"It’s always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world, and we’ll continue to invest in news globally and resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook.”

It also appears that there have been assurances given to Google outside the Code about the way it could operate in Australia in the future. In Facebook's case, an Explanatory Memorandum will be issued to make things clear in pollie speak. 

If this is world-leading legislation, then I'd hate to see what poor-quality legislation looks like. If this is a world first, then lead me to the deal that is last in the world. If this is victory, then please give me defeat.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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