Facebook blocks news sites, charities, government pages in Australia

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 18
As Australian authorities pursue a plan to have Big Tech companies pay news sites, Facebook shut down all pages that could be even vaguely be described as news ones.

Facebook


As it has previously threatened to do, Facebook has removed news pages in Australia. It follows continued progress by authorities toward a proposed system of charging social media firms.

Alongside pages from news organizations, however, Facebook also shut down some charities, plus emergency services and health pages. According to Reuters, Facebook has since restored the government-owned pages, but very many others remain inaccessible to users in Australia.

"Facebook's actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing," said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison -- in a post on Facebook.

"These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them," he continued. "They may be changing the world, but that doesn't mean they run it."

"We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code," said Prime Minister Morrison. "Just as we weren't intimidated when Amazon threatened to leave the country and when Australia drew other nations together to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media platforms."

"I encourage Facebook to constructively work with the Australian Government, as Google recently demonstrated in good faith," he concluded.

According to BBC News, Western Australia Premier Mark MCGowan described Facebook as "behaving like a North Korean dictator."

In a statement seen by Reuters, Facebook explained that the blocking of government pages should not have happened, but that it is unable to restore other affected pages.

"[As] the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content," the statement continued, "we have taken a broad definition."

These other affected pages include a mothers' group called North Shore Mums which has 35,000 followers. Organizer Rachel Chappel says Facebook's move has "completely shaken" her.

"We're a mum's website," she said. "We are small and niche. This is not fair. I think they are just bullies. They are shooting themselves in the foot.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison protested Facebook's move -- on Facebook
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison protested Facebook's move -- on Facebook


Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute's Centre for Responsible Technology told Reuters that the move "is destroying its social licence to operate."

"Without fact-based news to anchor it, Facebook will become little more than a cute cats and conspiracy theories [page]," he said. "If Facebook determines to treat Australians with such contempt, Australians should respond by ending its use of Facebook and using alternate ways to connect online."

If fully implemented, Australia's ongoing proposal would "allow news media businesses to bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over payment for the inclusion of news on their services." As well as negotiating payment, the proposal would require Facebook or Google to provide news organizations with advance warning of changes to algorithms.

Facebook has previously claimed that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)'s draft proposal "ignored important facts." These included what Facebook described as its investments in Australian news companies that amount to millions of dollars.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    So Facebook doesn’t like having to pay for news, but they also don’t like Apple telling their users they’re being sold as commodities under Apple’s new privacy rules. Seems hypocritical to me...
    JaiOh81pujones1cornchiplongpathrmusikantowDogpersonsbdudelolliverAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 2 of 26

    I’m Australian and we have a right wing government here, many of whose members are big Trump fans with the usual science-deriding, climate change denying, anti-minority etc.. positions.

    The primary news organisation in Australia that backs them is News Corp (of your American Fox News infamy). Here in Australia, they’re losing money hand over fist and Murdoch has long complained about Google & FB eating up "his" ad revenue. The government is concerned that their major backer’s future is clouded so decided to implement this law as a wealth transfer from FB & Google to News (and other major outlets that also happen to be friendly to the government such as Nine/Fairfax and Seven West Media.).

    Its basically extortion, FB & Google have no choice but to link to the News sites and pay the news sites for the privilege. The amount to be determined by a government appointed arbitrator. The news companies were claiming billions for their "costs", not the value they actually provide. They're demanding the right to post the articles on FB and that FB MUST PAY THEM for the privilege! As much as I hate FB, no business can operate under these conditions. In fact, they'd be insane to.

    The news organisations here are so arrogant and entitled that they’re outraged at FB and demanding it reinstate them!

    Also, no one knows more about internet traffic than FB and Google. Their ad tracking networks are all pervasive and they track even when you’re not logged into them or even a member! Can’t wait for iOS 14.5 to stop that, but this means that they know exactly the kind of traffic flows that occur and are able to predict what will happen from this action.

    To cut a long story short, FB knows that this will not materially affect them here in Australia, but it will affect the news organisations.

    williamlondonVermelhopujones1DogpersonOferAlex1Napplguyjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 26
    Do I miss something?
    Facebook let share some news content. When the government wanted the Facebook to pay for it, Facebook switch this content from its service.
    So that it won't pay for it.
    Now people complain the Facebook did something wrong.

    I don't get it. Why are people against Facebook in this case? That's the government who pushed Facebook to that move.


    Disclaimer: I am usually against Facebook and think they are discussing in their behaviour in many cases, including there attacks on Apple regarding privacy features.
    But in this case I am frustrated with the politicians and people who want something from the Facebook and then blame it for their own actions. 
    williamlondonentropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 26
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,421member
    macmojo said:

    I’m Australian and we have a right wing government here, many of whose members are big Trump fans with the usual science-deriding, climate change denying, anti-minority etc.. positions.

    The primary news organisation in Australia that backs them is News Corp (of your American Fox News infamy). Here in Australia, they’re losing money hand over fist and Murdoch has long complained about Google & FB eating up "his" ad revenue. The government is concerned that their major backer’s future is clouded so decided to implement this law as a wealth transfer from FB & Google to News (and other major outlets that also happen to be friendly to the government such as Nine/Fairfax and Seven West Media.).

    Its basically extortion, FB & Google have no choice but to link to the News sites and pay the news sites for the privilege. The amount to be determined by a government appointed arbitrator. The news companies were claiming billions for their "costs", not the value they actually provide. They're demanding the right to post the articles on FB and that FB MUST PAY THEM for the privilege! As much as I hate FB, no business can operate under these conditions. In fact, they'd be insane to.

    The news organisations here are so arrogant and entitled that they’re outraged at FB and demanding it reinstate them!

    Also, no one knows more about internet traffic than FB and Google. Their ad tracking networks are all pervasive and they track even when you’re not logged into them or even a member! Can’t wait for iOS 14.5 to stop that, but this means that they know exactly the kind of traffic flows that occur and are able to predict what will happen from this action.

    To cut a long story short, FB knows that this will not materially affect them here in Australia, but it will affect the news organisations.

    LOL.  It’s all the right wing, racist Trump-loving, climate-denying lemmings!  Your “right wing government” is what our Democratic Party was until 2008.  In other words “not insane socialists” like much of Europe and our current Dem party.   While I’m sure the comical interests of News Corp play a large role, why aren’t we seeing the same thing here? Your government in trying to reign in the unbridled power of big tech.  Good for them.  
    cornchiplongpathmacseekerwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    Yet Facebook continues to claim to be an impartial platform and not a publisher....

    From the article, “We're a mum's website," she said. "We are small and niche. This is not fair. I think they are just bullies. They are shooting themselves in the foot.”

    Her opinion, that they are just bullies, seems quite on target regarding Facebook and Zuckerberg.

    Also, this collectivist nonsense of lumping media companies like Facebook into the same category as Apple, under the term “Big Tech” strikes me as increasingly perverse. I certainly recognize the classic divide and conquer approach to politics that is common in any Democracy or Democratic Republic; but the lumping together of antagonistic entities still strikes me as perverse.
    edited February 18 Vermelhopujones1cornchipDogpersonh2plolliverjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 26
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,421member
    I can’t speak to whether I support this potential law (I think I lean against it) but Facebook’s behavior is unquestionably tyrannical at this point.  The entire concept of them limiting/stopping sharing (beyond the blatantly illegal or pornographic) is the problem.  They have become a common carrier.  It’s no different than the railroads, telegrams, phones or ISPs.  They became so ubiquitous that they represented the new public square.  At least in the U.S., this meant they couldn’t refuse service because of political views or just about anything else that was legal. Here, we specifically gave social media immunity based on the notion that they wanted to be neutral platforms.  We were wrong.  They didn’t, and they aren’t.  They are now working hand in hand with one political  party and traditional media to push one ideology as well as government propaganda.  In the process, they are violating anti-trust, fraud and election interference laws.  Their reckoning is coming, be it through market forces, government action or both.  
    cornchipmacseekerlolliverwilliamlondonAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 26
    macmojo said:

    I’m Australian and we have a right wing government here, many of whose members are big Trump fans with the usual science-deriding, climate change denying, anti-minority etc.. positions.

    The primary news organisation in Australia that backs them is News Corp (of your American Fox News infamy). Here in Australia, they’re losing money hand over fist and Murdoch has long complained about Google & FB eating up "his" ad revenue. The government is concerned that their major backer’s future is clouded so decided to implement this law as a wealth transfer from FB & Google to News (and other major outlets that also happen to be friendly to the government such as Nine/Fairfax and Seven West Media.).

    Its basically extortion, FB & Google have no choice but to link to the News sites and pay the news sites for the privilege. The amount to be determined by a government appointed arbitrator. The news companies were claiming billions for their "costs", not the value they actually provide. They're demanding the right to post the articles on FB and that FB MUST PAY THEM for the privilege! As much as I hate FB, no business can operate under these conditions. In fact, they'd be insane to.

    The news organisations here are so arrogant and entitled that they’re outraged at FB and demanding it reinstate them!

    Also, no one knows more about internet traffic than FB and Google. Their ad tracking networks are all pervasive and they track even when you’re not logged into them or even a member! Can’t wait for iOS 14.5 to stop that, but this means that they know exactly the kind of traffic flows that occur and are able to predict what will happen from this action.

    To cut a long story short, FB knows that this will not materially affect them here in Australia, but it will affect the news organisations.

    This is exactly how it works here in the US.  For example, our cable providers have to pay the local stations to carry them.  That's why, every once in a while, the cable provider  will ask for more money than the local station (usually owned by a big conglomerate) will pay and the provider will will drop the station until they come to terms.  I can see both sides of the issue as one side sees the delivery service (Facebook, Cable Providers) as making money on their content while the other side sees it as their delivery service allows the content provider (local stations) to reach a much wider audience. It does appear that some of these tech companies (I'm looking at you Facebook) seem to have an incredible amount of power. 

    Disclaimer: I am no fan of Facebook and use it only when necessary and would live an alternative.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 26
    maccaguy said:
    So Facebook doesn’t like having to pay for news, but they also don’t like Apple telling their users they’re being sold as commodities under Apple’s new privacy rules. Seems hypocritical to me...
    Not hypocritical so much as the millennial mindset where you not only don’t like to pay for anything, but don’t like being told “No.” So what you do is take your toys from the sandbox and look for someone else to play with. 
    longpathDogpersonsbdudewilliamlondonAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 26
    I have a question. Has Facebook become so important in Australia that they are a necessity? Should they be deemed a utility and government regulated?

    It’s a private company that built a platform for people to share content or whatever with friends and family right? The news outlets saw Facebook as a way to gain more of an audience right? The advertisers get more impressions on Facebook because so many people use it so they spend more there right? Now the news outlets want the government to force Facebook to pay them? Can’t they just take their content off Facebook and pass legislation that says Facebook or any social media outlets can’t show news content? They can say because it’s third hand or that Facebook and other social media outlets don’t have investigative reporters so they aren’t a qualified source. If Facebook wants the content THEN they have to pay for it like streaming services have to pay for content. Facebook can always build their own news service or start partnerships like Apple does for news content. 

    DISCLAIMER. I don’t use Facebook for news or anything else. I don’t want them owning my content or data and using it for free. I don’t want them tracking me either on their apps or the apps of others. Can’t wait for iOS 14.5. I am not saying what they did is right but I think if they want the content then they should have to pay. If the news outlets WILLINGLY use Facebook to reach a bigger audience then get off or negotiate some deals. The news outlets really have the power in my eyes. Mobilize the citizens. Too much government regulation isn’t a good thing right? This is about money and who is loosing it. Ad dollars. 

    I had several questions. Lol. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 26
    The Law of Unintended Consequences is a thing.

    Rail all you want about how despicable FarceBook can be, but they are within their rights to take this action, however hypocritical it might be.  Facebook is no more required to carry content on their platform than Apple is.
    pujones1h2pMisterKitwilliamlondonentropysapplguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 26
    The Law of Unintended Consequences is a thing.

    Rail all you want about how despicable FarceBook can be, but they are within their rights to take this action, however hypocritical it might be.  Facebook is no more required to carry content on their platform than Apple is.
    You are correct sir. 
    williamlondonentropyswatto_cobrabeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 12 of 26
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,492member
    Nobody should be using FB for news anyway.
    macseekerDogpersonsbdudeh2plolliverwilliamlondonentropysAlex1Napplguyjony0
  • Reply 13 of 26
    Ah yes. The impartial champion of the people, and definitely not a monopoly, is now exercising its monopoly power to avoid paying taxes. Makes total sense.
    williamlondonAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 26
    The company’s disgustingly arrogant and callous. 
    Alex1Njony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 26
    urahara said:
    Do I miss something?
    Facebook let share some news content. When the government wanted the Facebook to pay for it, Facebook switch this content from its service.
    So that it won't pay for it.
    Now people complain the Facebook did something wrong.

    I don't get it. Why are people against Facebook in this case? That's the government who pushed Facebook to that move.


    Disclaimer: I am usually against Facebook and think they are discussing in their behaviour in many cases, including there attacks on Apple regarding privacy features.
    But in this case I am frustrated with the politicians and people who want something from the Facebook and then blame it for their own actions. 
    Yeah, you missed how Google reacted. 
    Alex1Njony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 26
    Just get used to it. There are no good guys in this story. A fight to the death for all of them would be beneficial to all of us. 
    entropysapplguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 26
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,880member
    Bad guys vs bad guys.  Also why on earth does anyone use Facebook for news content? 

    The only solution is for Australia to launch its own social medja.  

    It will be called Offyafacebook. 

    You can only join if your blood alcohol reading is above 0.08.
    and nobody called Bruce. Ever.
    edited February 18 Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 26
    The legislation aims to ensure a local and independent media industry, hopefully useful in a democracy.

    While Facebook is not a publisher as such, it's track record in data dissemination and accuracy (in elections) is well known.

    The de facto issue at play here is who controls who, does the elected government make the rules or does the multinational monopolist make and police it's own rules as it goes? I think, that it's in that area, where Facebook is really concerned. It doesn't mater what side of politics your personal delusion might pander to, they are all vulnerable to these Multi's in the long term.

    Will Zuckerberg win where President Xi failed? We'll soon know.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 26
    maccaguy said:
    So Facebook doesn’t like having to pay for news, but they also don’t like Apple telling their users they’re being sold as commodities under Apple’s new privacy rules. Seems hypocritical to me...
    For probably the first time in history, Facebook is doing the right thing here.

    You need to read and understand what the Australian government is doing - demanding that Facebook (any online source) PAY any other online source, when the show a link to that other online source.  That just can't work for the internet.  It breaks a fundamental of the internet.

    So if you have a web site/blog, and want to post a link to a "news" article?  $$$$ - you have to pay the owner of that other web news article - WTF?!?!?!?
    entropys
  • Reply 20 of 26
    j2fusion said:
    macmojo said:

    I’m Australian and we have a right wing government here, many of whose members are big Trump fans with the usual science-deriding, climate change denying, anti-minority etc.. positions.

    The primary news organisation in Australia that backs them is News Corp (of your American Fox News infamy). Here in Australia, they’re losing money hand over fist and Murdoch has long complained about Google & FB eating up "his" ad revenue. The government is concerned that their major backer’s future is clouded so decided to implement this law as a wealth transfer from FB & Google to News (and other major outlets that also happen to be friendly to the government such as Nine/Fairfax and Seven West Media.).

    Its basically extortion, FB & Google have no choice but to link to the News sites and pay the news sites for the privilege. The amount to be determined by a government appointed arbitrator. The news companies were claiming billions for their "costs", not the value they actually provide. They're demanding the right to post the articles on FB and that FB MUST PAY THEM for the privilege! As much as I hate FB, no business can operate under these conditions. In fact, they'd be insane to.

    The news organisations here are so arrogant and entitled that they’re outraged at FB and demanding it reinstate them!

    Also, no one knows more about internet traffic than FB and Google. Their ad tracking networks are all pervasive and they track even when you’re not logged into them or even a member! Can’t wait for iOS 14.5 to stop that, but this means that they know exactly the kind of traffic flows that occur and are able to predict what will happen from this action.

    To cut a long story short, FB knows that this will not materially affect them here in Australia, but it will affect the news organisations.

    This is exactly how it works here in the US.  For example, our cable providers have to pay the local stations to carry them.  That's why, every once in a while, the cable provider  will ask for more money than the local station (usually owned by a big conglomerate) will pay and the provider will will drop the station until they come to terms.  I can see both sides of the issue as one side sees the delivery service (Facebook, Cable Providers) as making money on their content while the other side sees it as their delivery service allows the content provider (local stations) to reach a much wider audience. It does appear that some of these tech companies (I'm looking at you Facebook) seem to have an incredible amount of power. 

    Disclaimer: I am no fan of Facebook and use it only when necessary and would live an alternative.
    This is not a good analogy.

    Does your local News TV station in the US have to pay the owner of a news web site when they link/talk about it?  NO.

    Paying to link to another web article just breaks the internet.  And the Australian government is just arbitrarily setting the payment rate/cost.
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