UPDATED 2:40 PM PT – Saturday, February 20, 2021
Facebook is back at the negotiating table after its decision to stop Australians from sharing news and stripping the pages of domestic as well as foreign news outlets. According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday, Facebook’s decision to erase several state government and emergency department accounts caused widespread anger.
“We want to work through this issue,” Morrison said. “And so I welcome the fact that they are back engaging with the government, as they should, and those actions were completely indefensible.”
While Facebook publicly indicated no change in its position, Morrison said the tech giant “tentatively friended us again.”
On Friday, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had spoken with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and further talks were expected over the weekend. The stand-off came as Australia vowed to press ahead with landmark legislation, which Facebook opposed amid concern it would set a global precedent.
“Look, I’ll let legal minds go over those issues,” Morrison said. “My focus though is to get this issue resolved, positively, to ensure that the protections that we want to put in place. To ensure that we have a free and democratic society here that supported by an open news media can continue, that’s a very important part of who we are.”