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Facebook says it will invest $1 billion in news industry following Australian standoff

The company says its debate with the Australian government ‘misunderstands’ its relationship with news publishers

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Photo (c) fotograzia - Getty Images
On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it plans to invest at least $1 billion on news content over the next three years. 

The announcement comes a week after Facebook blocked Australian users from viewing news on its platform in response to a debate with the Australian government over how much Facebook should pay news publishers for the right to surface links to their content. 

At the time, Facebook said the proposed law left it facing “a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.” 

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter,” the company added. Less than a week later, Facebook ended up making a deal with the Australian government that will put news links back on Australian users’ feeds. 

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Facebook said it believes the debate was born from “a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between Facebook and news publishers.” 

If passed, the company said the Australian law would force Facebook to pay “potentially unlimited amounts of money to multi-national media conglomerates under an arbitration system that deliberately misdescribes the relationship between publishers and Facebook.”

“It’s like forcing car makers to fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car — and letting the stations set the price,” the company wrote. 

In order to support the news industry, Facebook has pledged to invest at least $1 billion in news over the next three years on top of the $600 million it’s already invested in the sector since 2018. 

“Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, said in a blog post published on Wednesday. “We absolutely recognize quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function — informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful to account.”

Google, which has also expressed opposition to Australia’s proposed law, said it also plans to invest $1 billion in the news industry over the next few years. 

“The business model for newspapers — based on ads and subscription revenue — has been evolving for more than a century as audiences have turned to other sources,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post. “The internet has been the latest shift, and it certainly won’t be the last ... We want to play our part by helping journalism in the 21st century.” 

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