By Mike Cherney 

Facebook Inc. said it reached an agreement with the Australian government to restore news pages to the social-media company's platform, following a five-day hiatus locally due to a disagreement over payment for content.

Facebook removed news from its platform in Australia last week, as legislation that would effectively require Facebook and Alphabet Inc.'s Google to pay traditional media companies for content worked its way through the country's parliament. The legislation is being widely watched globally and could offer a model for how other countries could compel tech giants to pay for content.

"Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won't automatically be subject to a forced negotiation," Campbell Brown, Facebook's vice president for global news partnerships, said in a statement. "It's always been our intention to support journalism in Australia and around the world."

The Australian government said Tuesday it would amend legislation to clarify how tech companies would be regulated.

Facebook's decision to remove news caught many Australians by surprise, though the company had previously warned that it could take such a move. To Australian users, the Facebook pages belonging to media outlets in Australia and overseas--including The Wall Street Journal--appeared blank, and users who tried to post a link to a news article got a notification saying the post couldn't be shared.

Lawmakers from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada criticized the news ban, with some saying the tech giant could attract more scrutiny around the world as authorities grow increasingly concerned about its market power.

Write to Mike Cherney at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 23, 2021 00:31 ET (05:31 GMT)

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