Aus PM: Facebook ‘temporarily friended us’

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 19: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference on February 19, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is one 16 vaccination hubs in New South Wales that will begin to inoculate frontline workers as Australia rolls out it's Covid-19 vaccination plan from Monday, February 22. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 19: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference on February 19, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

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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.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: In this photo illustration ABC News reports on Facebook's news ban on Australian and International content on February 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers an users in Australia from posting it sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing using content on their platforms. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 18: In this photo illustration ABC News reports on Facebook’s news ban on Australian and International content on February 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

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.”

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