Facebook faces further fights over news

Facebook has restored news to its Australian users. But its problems won’t stop there.

Facebook news on a phone
(Image credit: © Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Last week Facebook made a dramatic U-turn, announcing that it will restore news to its Australian users, says the BBC. Facebook had blocked news after a dispute over a law that “would force it and Google to pay news publishers for content”. While the government claims that the rules will set up a “fairer negotiation process” between the tech giants and news companies over the value of news content, Google and Facebook insist they are unfair, since “it gets little commercial gain from news content”.

The reversal isn’t a complete defeat for Facebook, says the Financial Times. The Australian government has agreed to make changes “that grant Facebook more leeway to negotiate with publishers”. The concessions will give it more “bargaining power” in its talks with News Corp, “the world’s most powerful publisher”. While Facebook has been negotiating with News Corp since December 2017, talks had broken down over what Facebook had considered an “exorbitant price” for the group’s news content.

Still, Facebook’s problems won’t stop with Australia, say Jeff Horwitz and Sarah Needleman in The Wall Street Journal. Australian officials are advising their counterparts “from Canada, Germany, France and Finland” about bringing in “similar rules”. While Facebook is making voluntary payments “of hundreds of millions” to media “partners” to stave off such regulation, the amount of money it is being forced to pay could increase. The costs may even become so “significant” that its margins will disapp

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Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

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