Australian PM Scott Morrison said that Facebook has “tentatively friended us again” and is back at the negotiating table. Earlier, Facebook blocked news on its site in Australia over a proposed law which would require tech giants to pay for news content.However, senior Facebook Asia-Pacific executive Simon Milner apologised for blocking access to health and emergency services pages.
The prime minister also welcomed a report that a Facebook executive had apologized for the company mistakenly shutting down pages operated by charities and others that covered public-health and safety announcements. Morrison described the actions as “completely indefensible.”
Facebook has publicly indicated no change in its opposition to a proposed law requiring social media platforms to pay for links to news content. Morrison was not asked about that.
Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Friday he had spoken with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and further talks were expected over the weekend. It was not clear whether those talks have happened.
Representatives for Frydenberg did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The stand-off comes as Australia’s vows to press ahead with the landmark legislation, which could set a global precedent as countries like Canada express interest in taking similar action.
The Australian law, which would force Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to reach commercial deals with Australian publishers or face compulsory arbitration, has cleared the lower house of parliament and is expected to be passed by the Senate within the next week.
Canadian heritage minister Steven Guilbeault said on Thursday his country would adopt the Australian approach as it crafts its own legislation in coming months.
Google, which has initially threatened to close its search engine in Australia, has announced host of preemptive licensing deals over the past week, including a global agreement with News Corp.
Facebook’s move had an immediate impact on traffic to Australian new sites, according to early data from New York-based analytics firm Chartbeat.
Total traffic to the Australian news sites from various platforms fell from the day before the ban by around 13% within the country.