Facebook’s VP of global Affairs has shed some light on the company’s decision to remove news in Australia and announced a billion-dollar commitment to supporting journalism.
Nick Clegg [pictured], who was previously Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, admitted that last week’s move might “have felt abrupt and dramatic to many” and admitted that the move “erred on the side of over-enforcement”.
However, he did reinforce the fact that Facebook had warned it might have to withdraw news six months ago.
“It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. But when it came, we had to take action quickly because it was legally necessary to do so before the new law came into force, and so we erred on the side of over-enforcement. In doing so, some content was blocked inadvertently. Much of this was, thankfully, reversed quickly,” Clegg said.
Although Facebook has now agreed to enter into commercial deals with publishers in Australia as part of the code, Clegg singled out the “threat of heavy-handed and unpredictable arbitration” as Facebook’s primary concern.
The government moved to amend arbitration requirements on Tuesday.
More funding for journalism
Facebook announced it had agreed to a commercial deal with Seven West Media earlier this week. And according to Clegg, we can expect several more of these deals around the world in the coming years.
“Facebook is more than willing to partner with 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,” he said.
“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.”
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