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Facebook turns Australian news back on

Facebook has restored access to Australian and international news pages overnight, including InDaily, more than a week after the company decided to enforce an unprecedented blanket ban on the country’s media outlets.

Photo: Carsten Rehder/dpa

Photo: Carsten Rehder/dpa

With Australians’ news feeds returning to normal this morning, media outlets across the country have posted welcome back messages to their readers in response to the decision – marking their first activity on the platform since last Thursday, February 18.

The social media giant agreed to reverse the ban on Tuesday, after the federal government made amendments to its “world first” media bargaining code which passed parliament on Thursday.

The company said the ban – which temporarily affected government agencies and local emergency services – was put in place because the unamended media code was “unworkable”, although one senior exec at the company have since admitted the decision was “over-enforced”.

The new amendments give Facebook more time to reach commercial agreements with news outlets before the treasurer has the power to force them to pay for news content access.

However, the company has not ruled out restricting access to news again, with head of Facebook News Partnership Campbell Brown tweeting on Tuesday: “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.”

Seven West Media is the first media organisation to sign a commercial agreement in principle with Facebook for news content.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims is confident the heavily amended code will still curtail the immense market power of digital platforms.

“Google and Facebook need media but they don’t need any particular company and that (previously) meant media companies couldn’t do commercial deals with Facebook or Google,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.

“The purpose of the code is to give them the potential for arbitration, which helps their bargaining position, and therefore helps them reach fair commercial deals.”

-with AAP

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