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Facebook Faces Fallout From Australian News Ban

Facebook is already facing fallout from its decision to block Australian news sources, with government sites impacted and calls of bullying....
Facebook Faces Fallout From Australian News Ban
Written by Matt Milano

Facebook is already facing fallout from its decision to block Australian news sources, with government sites impacted and calls of bullying.

Facebook took the unexpected step of completely blocking Australian customers from posting any news articles as a result of proposed legislation that would force the company to pay for such links. Google is similarly impacted by the legislation, but has chosen to start working out deals with news publishers.

The social media giant is already facing backlash as a result of its decision. ABC News reports that news posts started disappearing from various government agency sites, including the Bureau of Meteorology. Facebook says that was a mistake, as government agencies should not be impacted, and has restored some pages already.

“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

The same ABC News report also highlights the Australian scientific community’s concern over Facebook’s actions.

“For Facebook to block access to the feeds of trusted science and health organisations in Australia during a pandemic and bushfire season is irresponsible and dangerous,” said Science & Technology Australia chief executive Misha Schubert.

“At a time when the company is taking steps to tackle misinformation on its platform, it’s concerning it has chosen to silence some of this nation’s leading scientific voices.”

Meanwhile, at least one UK lawmaker is calling the company out for being a bully and says it’s time to get tough, according to Reuters.

“This action – this bully boy action – that they’ve undertaken in Australia will I think ignite a desire to go further amongst legislators around the world,” said Julian Knight, chair of the British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“We represent people and I’m sorry but you can’t run bulldozer over that – and if Facebook thinks it’ll do that it will face the same long-term ire as the likes of big oil and tobacco.”

When we covered Facebook’s decision yesterday, we said: “Given the scrutiny Facebook is already under worldwide, playing hardball with the Australian government is a risky maneuver that may end up backfiring.”

It would appear Facebook’s risky maneuver is, indeed, backfiring.

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