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Facebook lifts ban on Aussie news sites

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Australia’s 13 million Facebook users are finally able to view local news on their feeds again, eight days after the sensational social media wipe.

Facebook has lifted its ban on Australian news sites after an eight-day blackout in a sensational standoff with the Morrison government.

As of 1am AEDT on Friday, Australia's 13 million Facebook users are finally able to view local news on their feeds again after the social media giant reached an agreement with the Federal Government over its new media code.

When that code became law yesterday, Australia "helped lead the way" for how governments around the world deal with online behemoth.

"It's fair to say Google and Facebook didn't want this code to come into existence, but today it has and as a result Australian news media businesses will get paid for content and journalism will be sustained in this country," Mr Frydenberg told 2GB.

READ MORE: PM 'calls out' Facebook using 2019 Christchurch massacre

Why is Australian news returning to Facebook?

Mr Frydenberg confirmed on Thursday that Australian news would return to Facebook on Friday.

The social media giant had earlier pledged to restore Australian news pages "in the coming days" following amendments earlier in the week to the News Media and Digital Bargaining Code after lengthy negotiations with the treasurer.

"You'll see some changes from tomorrow (Friday) and that's what Facebook have told us," Mr Frydenberg told Jim Wilson.

"Obviously that was a major engineering feat for them to wipe the Facebook platform of Australian news media content.

"I think there was understandable outrage across the broader community as to what Facebook did.

"But since that time there's been extensive discussions with the company and we've reached a solution and a way forward.

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What does it mean for users as Facebook lifts news ban?

From Friday, Australian Facebook users should be able to read and share news from Australian organisations on the social network as they previously did.

Since Thursday last week, there had been a blanket ban on Australian news content being shared on Facebook. Users were met with a "no posts yet" message and blank feeds on news pages.

9News understands the Facebook pages captured in the blackout will be repopulated with their original content from before the snap ban.

Why did Facebook ban Australian news?

The dramatic move last week was Facebook pulling the trigger on its threat over the government's proposed new media bargaining code, which will compel companies like Facebook and Google to pay Australian publishers for their original news content.

Mr Frydenberg said the legislation was prompted by an ACCC review that found how Facebook and Google dominated the $9 billion-a-year online advertising market in Australia.

"For every $100 that is spent (on advertising), $81 goes to Google and Facebook," he told 2GB yesterday.

"The recommendation from the ACCC was those digital giants start paying Australian news outlets that generate original content.

"Over the past three years we have in extensive negotiations formulating this code, there's been a lot of back and forth."

READ MORE: Australian media code becomes law

The social giant argued that being forced to pay for news content was not in the spirit of the platform, and only comprised around four per cent of its content.

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Google had previously come to certain agreements with media organisations.

Facebook, however, followed through on its threat, a decision its VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said "wasn't taken lightly".

"We had to take action quickly because it was legally necessary to do so before the new law came into force, and so we erred on the side of over-enforcement," Mr Clegg wrote.

But the decision sparked outrage.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said it was important social media giants working in Australia complied with "the law of the land".

"The intention of the news media bargaining code is that where the digital platforms are using content, paid for and generated by Australian news media businesses, it costs money to employ journalists and to have editorial policies to fact check, if that content is being used by the digital platforms, they should pay for it," he said.

"The Australian Government has been very clear on that principle."

Government news sites are being affected by the Facebook news ban.

The shock ban caught many inadvertent pages in its wake, such as Fire and Rescue NSW, the Bureau of Meteorology, and domestic violence helplines.

READ MORE: Facebook exec apologises for pages caught up in Aussie news ban

In an open letter, Facebook Australia and New Zealand's managing director William Easton claimed the law "misunderstands" how Facebook works.

"The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content," Mr Easton wrote.

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Source: 9News

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