Facebook is lifting the block on journalistic media in Australia, and the government also wants to make improvements to Australia’s ancillary copyright law. But the compromise smacks of censorship.

The “News Media Bargaining Code” – the Australian version of a performance protection law – is intended to make Facebook, Google and Co. pay. The tech companies are to share their advertising revenues with media companies, in other words pay a quasi-royalty for the distribution of journalistic content.

Facebook didn’t want to get involved in the deal and quickly blocked the sharing and posting of news content altogether.

The Australian government strikes back

The government did not take this lying down: Australian Finance Minister Simon Birmingham announced that the government would withdraw all ads planned for Facebook.

That would mean an annual revenue loss for Facebook of 10.5 million Australian dollars, or about 6.8 million euros, the Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted broadcaster ABC as saying.

Now Facebook and the Australian government have reached the “bargaining” part of the “News Media Bargaining Code” – which at this point can certainly be translated as “haggling”.

Both sides want to improve

On the one side is the Australian government: It has announced “amendments” to the text of the law in order to create “more clarity” about the application of the new ancillary copyright. The goal is still to compensate media houses “fairly.”

Facebook, on the other hand, is committed to making journalistic content accessible again “in the coming days,” Facebook’s Australia chief Will Easton announced.

Agreement at a questionable price

But with the change in the law, the Australian government is playing Facebook a decisive trump card. The network can decide for itself whether and, above all, which news and media remain on the platform.

We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers.“

Facebook, on the other hand, is committed to making journalistic content accessible again “in the coming days,” Facebook’s Australia chief Will Easton announced.

Brown justifies this part of the agreement by saying that Facebook is thus “not automatically subject to forced negotiations.” However, it looks to the outside world more like the government is putting a huge censorship tool in Facebook’s hands.