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Facebook Deplatforms Australia

Facebook has banned not only Australians from sharing or viewing local and international news, but also international users from sharing or viewing Australian news content.
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Facebook has banned not only Australians from sharing or viewing local and international news, but also international users from sharing or viewing Australian news content.

The latest change comes in response to Australia’s new ‘News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill 2020’ which would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that publishers voluntarily place on their platform.

The ban has also impacted some government information pages, such as Queensland Health, South Australia Health, Fire & Emergency Services WA, Bureau of Meteorology, 1800 Respect, Women’s Legal Services Tasmania, DV Connect, and The Medical Journal of Australia.

In a press release, Facebook said: “The law is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers. Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organisations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers.” 

Last year, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the ABC that the new digital platforms bill would provide consumer protection for Australian media companies.  

“The proposed Media Bargaining law requires companies like Facebook and Google to pay media companies for the news content that’s aggregated and disseminated on their platforms,” he said. “Beyond providing financial remuneration for content, the bill also proposes transparency into the platforms’ closely-guarded algorithms. 

“It’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable media landscape.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chair, Rod Sims, further stipulates that the new bill merely offers transparency between Facebook, Google and Australian Media.

“Facebook already pays some media for news content. The code simply aims to bring fairness and transparency to Facebook and Google’s relationships with Australian news media businesses.”

With the Australian Government not wavering to Facebooks threats of removal of content, Facebook has ‘reluctantly’ made the move to ban all Australian news, both international and local from being viewed, shared or read through their platform.

“We already invest millions of dollars in Australian news businesses and, during discussions over this legislation, we offered to invest millions more,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“We had also hoped to bring Facebook News to Australia, a feature on our platform exclusively for news, where we pay publishers for their content. Since it launched last year in the US, publishers we partner with have seen the benefit of additional traffic and new audiences. 

“But these proposals were overlooked. Instead, we are left with a choice of either removing news entirely or accepting a system that lets publishers charge us for as much content as they want at a price with no clear limits. Unfortunately, no business can operate that way. We hope that in the future the Australian government will recognise the value we already provide and work with us to strengthen, rather than limit, our partnerships with publishers,” the platform added.

Federal MP George Christensen aptly pointed out that it was only yesterday that the hypocritical mainstream media were cheering on Facebook for slapping Federal MP Craig Kelly with a week-long suspension.

“I don’t like the censorship but now that the news media has a taste of what it’s like to be deplatformed they might fight for online speech for conservatives a bit more,” Christensen said.

“I won’t hold my breath,” he added.

Double standards aside, here’s a thought that should concern you. Mark Hemingway, Senior Writer at Real Clear Investigations tweeted:

“If Australia folds in response to Facebook demands, the message will be pretty clear — a big tech company holds more influence than a sovereign government with the world’s 18th largest GDP.

“That should scare you.”


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