Australia says Facebook in talks with government after news ban

 Australia says Facebook in talks with government after news ban
© Aaron Schwartz

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Facebook is back in negotiations with the government after the tech platform decided to restrict users in Australia from sharing news content.

“What I’m pleased about is that Facebook’s back at the table. And that’s what we want to see,” Morrison said at a press conference Saturday morning local time. “We want to work through this issue. So I welcome the fact that they’re back engaging with the government, as they should.”

The company has “tentatively friended us again,” he quipped.

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The comments mark the latest development in a back-and-forth between Sydney and Facebook over a proposed law that would make the platform pay publishers for content. 

Facebook announced this week that it would curtail Australian publishers’ abilities to share or post content on its pages and limit Australian users from viewing or sharing international publishers’ links and posts. 

Morrison came out swinging against the proposal, urging Facebook to reverse its decision.

“The idea of shutting down the sorts of sites they did yesterday, as some sort of threat — well, I know how Australians react to that and I thought that was not a good move on their part,” Morrison said Friday.

“Those actions were completely indefensible,” he added Saturday.

The law’s implications on Australia’s relations with major tech platforms are drawing attention from lawmakers in other countries who are mulling their own regulation measures. 

While Facebook took a stern stance against the law, Google struck deals with News Corp and Australian-based Seven West Media for content.