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Australians wake up to Facebook news blackout



Facebook is under fire as Australians accuse the social media giant of censoring news along with emergency services in an apparent blackout. This morning, residents logged in, saying they weren’t able to post links to news articles or view the Facebook pages of any news outlets worldwide.

The move that has essentially blocked Australia from being in the loop, comes after its government proposed laws that would make social media outlets pay for news content to be shared onto their sites. But Facebook’s retaliation efforts also created chaos as fire, meteorological and health services nationwide began to experience problems with their pages, even during several public emergencies.

In response to the angry backlash, a Facebook spokesperson said official government pages shouldn’t have been affected by the announcement this morning, and that the company would fix any pages that were inadvertently impacted.

Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson, however, is concerned as she says the block has also impacted Indigenous community pages, charities, and even Facebook’s own page.  Pearson described the move as an “alarming and dangerous turn of events.”

“Facebook is severely restricting and censoring the flow of information to Australians. Cutting off access to vital information to an entire country in the dead of the night is unconscionable.”

Despite being unable to access news organisations’ pages on the site, misinformation pages and fact-checking pages are still within reach, prompting many to call into question the role that journalists play in news gathering. The big question that critics have is how media organisations that employ qualified journalists, who go through a fact-checking process, are being blocked from the site, yet misinformation campaign pages and well-known conspiracy pages are allowed to be displayed.

Facebook’s manager for Australia and New Zealand, William Easton, says the proposed law, however, “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”

Easton says Facebook could either try to comply with a law that ignores the reality of such a relationship, or stop allowing news content on its services in Australia.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

Easton says the numbers don’t add up and favor news publishers heavily as they reap hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue by having Facebook disseminate their stories. He points to the proposed law as penalizing the social media platform for content that it “did not take or ask for.”

On the contrary, Australia’s watchdog for competition has revealed consistently that the breakdown for every $100 spent on online advertising deprives media outlets of revenue that is needed to support journalism. Google captures $53 of the $100, while Facebook captures $28.  The rest is divided amongst others.

Australia isn’t alone in the push to even out the playing field, as other countries are mulling such moves to make tech platforms share revenues with news media outlets. But the choice to block the news before a decision is made by the courts could set a dangerous precedent.

The legislation put forth by the Australian government has already passed the House of Representatives in recent days, and is now on its way to being considered by the Senate.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Grumpy John

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 11:23 am

    I said on farcebook “Just finished putting my bread dough in the bread tins and waiting for the rising before cooking so clicked on The Thaiger web site and the headline is ” Australians wake up to Facebook news blackout”…/australians-wake-up-to… Do the farcebook fuckwits realise there are at least 100 other sites to read the news??? It is rather childish I think. Something the CCP would do….er, have done! ”

    These so called tech giants need to be taken down a peg or 2 or 3!

    • Singharacha

      Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 8:17 pm

      Of course FB does not shutdown pages which serve the US imperialist interests, and does shutdown everyone who oppose them or disagree with them.

  2. dispensed

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Wow, I’m so conflicted between my hatred of the Australian nanny state and my hatred of Facebook and the news media…

    Probably a win for Australia since nothing good ever comes from the media these days, just mass hysteria.

  3. Ron

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    The good news is we can soon launch decentralized platforms via Blockchain technology, let’s say 5 years from now everyone uses it as if it was Facebook or Twitter. By that time users will be rewarded for their own content, owners too. Bye Silicon Valley mafia.

  4. Geoff

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Why does anyone, sheep excluded, look to FB for news items? It’s the most sneaky, snidy, intrusive platform known to man. I hope they are reined in.

  5. Mark

    Friday, February 19, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    If you’re sourcing FB for your news, you deserve what you get. This is more about the partisanship between the Morrison government and the Australian media corporations who are crying poor. The media companies, represented by the LNP have well overplayed their hand on this one, and if truth be known profited nicely from their relationship with FB. They just wanted a bigger slice of the pie.

    • Jesus Monroe

      Friday, February 19, 2021 at 5:26 pm

      Correct Mark. This is all about Murdoch lining his pockets and not giving a shit about the ordinary people being affected…….As for Morrison don’t get me started……

  6. Tony W

    Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 7:00 am

    We in Australia no longer receive any genuine news feeds from world news outlets on Facebook, even a small news outlets like The Thaiger are blocked.

    Facebook has done Australia a favour by blocking all genuine news feeds, we do not need to think or evaluate what we are reading, at least now we know that the only news now published on Facebook is FAKE news!!

  7. Buttaxe

    Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    Good to see so many readers cynical about Big Tech and Big State news. Use anything but MSM or Big Tech approved news sources.

    De-Google your life:
    Use DDK not Google search
    Use Brave browser ONLY.
    Use Telegram not Whatsapp
    Use GAB not Twitter
    Use Yandex translation not Google
    Use Yandex or Proton mail not Gmail

    • Singharacha

      Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 8:41 pm

      You have a lot of alternatives to US BigTech.

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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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