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Facebook reverses ban on news pages in Australia

The tech giant has blocked news to Australians on its platform since last Thursday amid a dispute over a proposed law which would force it and Google to pay news publishers for content.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg had told him the ban would end "in the coming days", after the pair had talks.

Mr Frydenberg said amendments would be made to the law.

"Facebook has re-friended Australia," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Facebook to block Australian users from viewing or sharing news

Australia wants tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay for the content reposted from news outlets.

The social media giant said the proposed law "fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers".

Australia previously called Facebook's threats of such a ban "misconceived".

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it drew up the new rules to "level the playing field" between the tech giants and publishers.

The Australian government says it will put the legislation to a vote in the coming weeks.

Facebook sued for 'losing control' of users’ data

The alleged failings were revealed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where harvested data was used for advertising during elections.

Journalist Peter Jukes, leading the action, claims his data was compromised.

Facebook told BBC News there was “no evidence" UK or EU users’ data had been transferred to Cambridge Analytica.

But the case against the technology giant, expected to last for at least three years, will argue a “loss of control” over users' personal data warrants individual compensation.

Facebook News feature launches in UK

 The UK is the second market to get Facebook News, which launched in the United States last year.

Several major news publishers, including Channel 4, Sky News, and The Guardian have signed deals with Facebook to provide content.

It comes as the tech industry's relationship with the media comes under increased scrutiny.

Google last week threatened to pull out of Australia if forced by law to enter commercial agreements with news publishers - something about which Facebook has also expressed concern.

New WhatsApp policy to share user data with Facebook draws backlash

WhatsApp alerted users to the controversial change to its privacy policy via an in-app notification which asks them to agree to share personal data, including their phone number and IP address, with Facebook.

“By tapping Agree, you accept the new terms, which take effect on February 8, 2021,” the notification states, adding “After this date, you’ll need to accept the new terms to continue using WhatsApp. You can also visit the Help Center if you would prefer to delete your account."

Users who do not accept the new policy by February 8 will lose access to their accounts.

Facebook shuts Uganda government-linked accounts

The social media giant said a network connected with the ministry of information had been using fake and duplicate accounts to impersonate users and boost the popularity of posts.

In a BBC interview, the government accused Facebook of being biased.

The run-up to the election has been marred by tension and violence.

After 35 years in power, President Yoweri Museveni, 76, is being strongly challenged by music star Bobi Wine, who is 38 and draws much of his support from young people.

Facebook blocks Trump 'until transition complete'

It means the president will be unable to post on Facebook and Instagram until after the transition of power to Joe Biden on 20 January.

The social network had originally imposed a 24-hour ban after his supporters attacked the US Capitol.

Facebook's chief Mark Zuckerberg wrote that the risks of allowing Trump to post "are simply too great".

In a video posted to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Trump told the rioters attacking the seat of government "I love you" before telling them to go home. He also repeated false claims about election fraud.

EU reveals plan to regulate Big Tech

Fresh restrictions are also planned to govern their use of customers' data, and to prevent the firms ranking their own services above competitors' in search results and app stores.

The measures are intended to overhaul how the EU regulates digital markets.

Large fines and break-ups are threatened for non-compliance.

It is proposed that if companies refuse to obey, they could be forced to hand over up to 10% of their European turnover.

Facebook Oversight Board reveals its first cases

All involve decisions originally made by the platform to remove user content.

They include images of female breasts in a post about breast cancer, and an image of a dead child alongside text about whether retaliation was justified against China for its treatment of Uighur Muslims.

The board said Facebook users had submitted 20,000 suggested incidents for review since October 2020.

The arbitration body is inviting the public to comment on the cases - which have all been anonymised - over the next seven days.

Facebook and Twitter grilled over US election actions

Democrats questioned whether steps taken to flag that President Trump's claims of election fraud were "disputed" had gone far enough.

Republican members of the Judiciary Committee asked whether the tech firms should be taking such action at all.

This was the second time the CEOs had been cross-examined in three weeks.

They were previously questioned by the Senate Commerce Committee last month in what was a more rowdy event.

Once again, the issue of a law known as Section 230 loomed large.