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Facebook to restore news for Australian users

SYDNEY — Facebook on Tuesday announced it would restore news content for Australian users “in the coming days” after the country’s government added last-minute amendments to a draft law that would force Facebook and Google to pay some local publishers for their digital material.

Last week, Facebook banned Australians from viewing any news links in response to the proposed laws, causing a significant drop in publishers’ online traffic.

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“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers. We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president for global news partnerships, said in a statement.

The amendments to the “News Media Bargaining Code” include the addition of a two-month mediation period, so the tech giants have more time to strike deals with publishers before entering a binding “final offer” arbitration process. The legislation is now expected to pass through parliament as soon as Wednesday.

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“Facebook has refriended Australia,” Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Tuesday in a televised statement. “Facebook has committed to entering into good-faith negotiations with Australian news media businesses and seeking to reach agreements to pay for content.”

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