CANBERRA (AUSTRALIA) – Facebook Inc has “tentatively friended us again,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday as the tech giant was back on the negotiating table after it blocked news on its site in the country this week.
Facebook’s abrupt decision to stop Australians from sharing news on the site and drop the pages of domestic and foreign news lead to black out of several state government and emergency department accounts, causing widespread anger.
Morrison told a news conference in Sydney. “What I’m pleased about it that Facebook is back at the table again.”
Facebook has publicly indicated no change in its opposition to a proposed law requiring social media platforms to pay for links to news content.
The stand-off comes as Australia’s vows to go ahead with the landmark legislation, which could set a global precedent as countries like Canada express interest in taking similar action.
The new law which is expected to be passed by the Senate within the next week would force Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to reach commercial deals with Australian publishers or face compulsory arbitration.
Simon Milner, Facebook’s Asia-Pacific policy director of policy for the Asia-Pacific region, was quoted on Saturday as telling the Sydney Morning Herald the company had three main objections to the legislation.
Facebook objects to being barred from discriminating between different news outlets that ask for money, to arbitration models that allow an independent body to select one payment over another, and to the obligation to enter commercial negotiations with Australian media companies, Milner said.