Facebook’s move to ban news content in Australia has caused an uproar, with politicians, publishers and even Google calling out the social media platform.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, who has championed the News Media Bargaining Code, said the move would take away from Facebook’s overall credibility.
“The decision they’re taking seems … that what they want to do is remove credible news sources from the platform,” he told 2GB.
“It basically says to Australians if you’re looking for credible news, Facebook isn’t the place to look for it.”
Although the legislation has been passed in the House of Representatives, some have suggested the government might reconsider the Code following today’s news.
However, Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg confirmed there were no such plans.
“I don’t think we’re going to have any changes in our plans,” he told Sky News.
“Throughout the senate committee process, I have to say, Facebook didn’t exactly cover itself in glory… they effectively said news was of no value to them.”
“A platform for misinformation”
With no news content available on Facebook, Nine suggested that what will be left is “a platform for misinformation”.
“It is unfortunate Facebook have taken this position and it will indeed inhibit us from sharing our quality news and information with Australians. Nobody benefits from this decision as Facebook will now be a platform for misinformation to rapidly spread without balance. This action proves again their monopoly position and unreasonable behaviour,” a company spokesperson said.
“But today’s statement does not mean Facebook will not have to abide by the Federal Governments proposed code. Value has already been transferred and Facebook has benefited from our content for many years. We should be able to access their monopoly platform and have the right to monetise our content as a result.
“We have been negotiating with Facebook in good faith and we remain willing to do a deal with them that provides a mutually beneficial outcome and ensures quality information is available to all Australians on their platform.”
Google weighs in
Google – which has previously presented a united front with Facebook in opposition to the code – also took issue with Facebook’s statement this morning.
Facebook’s blog this morning, which detailed the move to ban news, pointed to the differences between the social media platform and Google.
“Google Search is inextricably intertwined with news and publishers do not voluntarily provide their content,” the blog suggests.
Google’s public liason for Search Danny Sullivan pointed out: “publishers *do* choose to appear or not in Google Search & Google News”.
Emergency services impacted
It has since been revealed that a number of Australian government health pages have been included in the ban, including the Queensland, South Australian and ACT Health Facebook pages.
The move has caused concern, particularly around how members of the public will be able to access important information during the pandemic.
Posts have been removed from the Queensland and SA health department Facebook pages pic.twitter.com/N2K8NlFTSq
— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) February 17, 2021
— Sarah Maunder (@s_maunder) February 17, 2021
Facebook has since confirmed it will reverse any Government Pages that have been impacted by the move.
Betoota wins the morning
One of the hardest done by in the entire saga is arguably The Betoota Advocate, which has been taken off Facebook despite being a satirical site.
The publication issued a stern message to the Australian government: “we hope Rupert’s 30 pieces of silver was worth it”.
— The Betoota Advocate (@BetootaAdvocate) February 17, 2021
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