Facebook Doles Out $1 Billion to Settle News Dispute

Facebook Doles Out $1 Billion to Settle News Dispute

Following the events of past weeks involving Facebook and the Australian government, the social media company has announced a plan to invest $1 billion in support of the news industry for the next three years.

Google was the first to take the step with its News Showcase initiative, now Facebook is following the step to prevent possible re-occurrence of events that took place in Australia.

Last week, Facebook blocked news services in Australia as its disagreement with the Australian government, over proposed legislation that will compel tech companies to pay news publishers for their contents, escalated. Facebook’s decision to cut off news services in Australia received heavy backlash and was quickly rescinded after the government amended the legislation.

The proposed legislation which has now been signed into law means Facebook and Google will have to bargain with newsrooms either individually or collectively – and to enter arbitration if the parties can’t reach an agreement within three months, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

With the amendments which gave Facebook the chance at fair negotiations with publishers, the social media platform said they look forward to agreeing to new deals with publishers and enabling Australians to share news links once again.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced it is embarking on an alternative approach to settle the ‘pay for news’ conflict.

“Facebook is more than willing to partner with the news publishers. We absolutely recognize quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function – informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful to account. That’s why we’ve invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion more over the next three years,” Facebook said in a blog post.

Google has used its News Showcase, a $1 billion initiative aimed at compensating news outlets, to curtail the increasing calls for the tech giants to pay publishers for their news content.

In 2019, the European Union signed copyright laws that will require search engines and social media platforms to share revenue with publishers if their contents are displayed. EU members have a June 7 deadline to implement the law. France, which like many other countries in Europe has been sympathetic to publishers, swiftly implemented the copyright law. In January, Google signed a deal with French publishers under its News Showcase initiative.

Other EU member states are expected to implement the copyright law before the June 7 deadline.

Google and Facebook have been at the center of the ‘pay for news’ conflict, given that the duo control the largest share of online advertising. More countries have been joining the campaign to get the tech giants to compensate media outlets. Last week, Canada announced it is following Australia’s steps by enacting a law that will compel Facebook and Google to pay news publishers. Britain is also towing the same path.

Microsoft said on Monday it would team up with media industry groups like the European Publishers Council (EPC) to lobby for similar policy in Europe. The move has been heartily welcomed by the EPC, further stoking the growing emotion luring many countries to the campaign.

The moves indicate that Facebook will have more countries to fight if it doesn’t find a workable solution to the conflict, so the Silicon Valley platform adopted Google’s approach. The web search giant struck a deal with many Australian media outlets under the News Showcase to calm the nerve of the government. It has also used the initiative to strike deals with more than 500 news outlets around the world.

Last month, Facebook announced that it has signed deals with The Guardian, Telegraph Media Group, Sky News and some local, regional and lifestyle publishers, to pay for content in its Facebook News product in the UK. Facebook News product is a new tab where users can find headlines and stories next to news personalized to users’ interest. The company said it has also reached a deal with publishers in the US, and is in active negotiations with others in Germany and France.

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