San Francisco (AFP)

A promise and regrets: after having come under a torrent of criticism for having temporarily blocked press articles in Australia in protest of a law asking the digital giants to pay the media, Facebook wants to make amends by investing "in minus "$ 1 billion in news content over the next three years.

"We have already invested $ 600 million since 2018 to support the media industry, and plan to invest at least $ 1 billion more over the next three years," wrote Wednesday, in a blog post, Nick Clegg, the head of public affairs for the social media giant.

This commitment comes at a time when digital groups are in the crosshairs of governments around the world, who want to force them to pay for the media content they broadcast on their platforms.

"We absolutely recognize that quality journalism is crucial to the functioning of our societies - by informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful" accountable for their actions, explains Nick Clegg.

The leader does not give the details of the distribution of the group's future investments in the media nor the form that these last - payments will take?



Copyright ?

neighboring rights?


"Facebook wants more than ever to partner with news publishers," says Clegg only.

The promise of Mark Zuckerberg's group is made the day after the end of a Homeric standoff between him and the Australian government on a bill intended to regulate relations between the traditional media, in great financial difficulty, and the behemoths which dominate the internet and capture a significant portion of advertising revenue.

After blocking the publication of links to news articles from local or international media in response to this under discussion law, the owner of Instagram and WhatsApp has finally backed down, sealing a last-minute deal with Canberra involving on the remuneration of the media for their content broadcast on its platforms.

- Like Google -

The new envelope is equivalent to the promise made last October by Google to pay a billion dollars over three years to newspaper publishers, such as Der Spiegel and Die Zeit in Germany, to use their content for a new tool called Google News Showcase as part of partnerships.

Mr. Clegg, ex-number 2 of the British government, also takes advantage of the announcement of these investments to make a mea culpa following the outcry over the firmness of the group in Australia.

"It was not a decision taken lightly," he explains.

"We had to make a decision quickly because it was legally necessary to do so before the law came into force. So we made a mistake in applying it too harshly. In doing so we blocked some content inadvertently. Fortunately, this was canceled quite quickly, "he concluded.

Nick Clegg, however, without naming him, lashes out at media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose group was pushing for Australia's new law.

"Facebook would have been forced to pay potentially unlimited sums to multinational media conglomerates," he criticizes.

"It's like forcing automakers to fund radio stations because people would listen to them while driving and let the stations set the price."

The compromise reached with the Australian government means that Facebook and Google - particularly targeted by the bill - will not be penalized if they make certain deals with local media in order to pay for the information.

They were given two months to negotiate these arrangements and avoid binding arbitration.

The Australian media will thus collect millions of dollars from Google and Facebook.

For their part, the digital giants will not be able to pay higher sums than those on which they will have agreed with the media, which will avoid an international precedent.

Google has already agreed to pay "significant sums" in return for the content of the press group News Corp.

by M. Murdoch.

Canada is considering taking similar steps.

© 2021 AFP