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Op-Ed: Huh? Facebook reverses Australian news sites ban

This development isn’t entirely unexpected. The talk/bickering in public and behind the scenes has been ongoing. That said – Given Facebook’s adamant refusal to cooperate, a lot of work must have gone into the reversal. The compromise legal situation is that an independent third-party arbitrator will decide if parties can’t reach agreement on payments. On face value, it means that Facebook would get a fair hearing in comparison to the previous arbitration scenarios.
A further consideration is that Facebook wants to bring Facebook News to Australia. There are no solid deals in place with publishers at this point, but this is obviously a third avenue for Facebook, publishing under contract with local news sources.
Australia won’t be sorry that the ban has been lifted. It was a mess, and a particularly infuriating mess. The perception that companies which have been complicit in the last four years of propaganda-mongering wanted more money didn’t sit well. It still doesn’t.
The fact that Facebook News will now deal directly with Australian news media is also an interesting development. Local news sources need exposure. Facebook can deliver exactly what they want. This may also help to undermine the stranglehold of the major news publishers over time. These publishers own an ungodly number of news media, and they play rough with independents.
It doesn’t change the fact that the news media bargaining code is still a lousy idea, pandering to the plutocrats and propaganda skanks. When will global media become truly global, and truly independent? Don’t hold your breath. From the look of this, there’s a long way to go.

Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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