Australia : Facebook blocks news sharing over new laws
Brisbane – Facebook blocked the sharing of news in Australia yesterday over government plans to make it pay media groups for content. This move disrupted the pages of emergency services while triggering accusations of censorship.
In a strong pushback to Australia’s new media bargaining laws, Facebook has decided to block out news content from its social networking platform Down Under. Calling it their “last choice”, Facebook said it will “stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram”.
Arguing how the new laws will work against the publishers, William Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand, claimed in a blog post: “Last year Facebook generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimated AU$407 million”.
Fire, health and meteorological services around the country saw problems with their Facebook pages, amid several serious public emergencies. This happened as the bureau issued a series of flash flooding warnings for parts of Queensland state after heavy rainfall overnight. At least three state health departments, which issue regular updates on the coronavirus pandemic to hundreds of thousands of Australians, were also affected.
Until Facebook reverses the damage, Australians are being denied access to information from health and support services and their governments, with some branding the breadth of the ban as “cruel”.