Facebook Accused By Whistleblowers Of Playing Hardball With Aussie Authorities Over New Law

?stanbul, Turkey - February 10, 2014: Businessman figurines standing in front of Apple iPad monitor  displaying start-up screen of Facebook application. Facebook is one of the most visited social networking website in the world.

A report that was revealed by The Wall Street Journal brought to light a series of messages from within Facebook in which they praise their teams for taking down pages that belong to the Australian government, including those of hospitals and charity organisations.

This incident occurred during the discussion period for a proposed new law that would enforce big tech corporations, such as Facebook itself and Google to pay for the news that are featured on their platforms.

Within the report are a series of documents, which were provided by an anonymous whistleblower and were handed to the Australian and US officials, indicating that Facebook began taking down news that belonged to Australian publications from its website without following its own protocol for instances where features need to be changed.

At the time, the company had argued that they did that in an attempt to avoid any legal implications, however the documents revealed that Facebook tried to affect the country’s political process by using “maximum negotiating leverage.”

The Journal’s report states: “Despite saying it was targeting only news outlets, the company deployed an algorithm for deciding what pages to take down that it knew was certain to affect more than publishers,” pointing towards the revealed documents but also the testimonies of those who had inside knowledge on the matter.

The owners and administrators of the pages which were affected by the alteration received no prior notification by the company that they were being shut down and they had no way to protest the matter.

However a representative of Meta, Facebook’s parent company, strongly denied these accusations, stressing that the anonymous whistleblower’s documents “…clearly show that we intended to exempt Australian government Pages from restrictions in an effort to minimize the impact of this misguided and harmful legislation. When we were unable to do so as intended due to a technical error, we apologized and worked to correct it. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically and obviously false.”

This report by The Wall Street Journal is only the latest in a number of incidents regarding Meta’s attitude towards other corporations and its own employees which have seen the light of day thanks to the bravery of the whistleblowers.

According to previous findings, the company has extensive knowledge about how the world of virtual reality, in which it is investing heavily, can become a festering ground for online abuse, but has neglected to take any serious action towards preventing such a scenario.

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