Australia slams Facebook News blackout as cumbersome, wrong


Australia slams Facebook News blackout as “Heavy Handed, Wrong”


The Australian government said Thursday that Facebook was “persistent” and “wrong” for implementing an unprecedented local ban on exchanging messages in response to upcoming laws that would force the social media giant to pay for content .

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the US firm had not announced it would revoke users’ ability to post links to news articles or view news agency Facebook pages from anywhere in the world.

“Facebook was wrong. Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were persistent and they will damage its reputation here in Australia,” he said.

The surprise move early Thursday was in retaliation for laws proposed in Canberra that would force social media giants to pay for Australian news content shared on their websites.

Frydenberg said the government remained “absolutely determined” to implement its plan, which was passed in the House of Representatives late Wednesday and is now before the Senate.

“What today’s events confirm for all Australians is the immense market power of these digital media giants,” he said.

“These digital giants play a very important role in our economy and in the digital landscape.”

Facebook has waged a lengthy war of words with Canberra over fear of tech companies setting a global precedent that could require dramatic changes and affect their business model.

Communications Secretary Paul Fletcher had also raised concerns that blocking news media on the popular platform in Australia could encourage the spread of misinformation.


“What they are effectively telling Australians is,” You will not find any content on our platform that comes from an organization that employs professional journalists, has editorial guidelines and has fact-checking processes, “he said.

“You are effectively saying, ‘You will not find any information on our website that meets these standards of accuracy.’

“That seems like a very surprising position that probably isn’t in your brand’s long-term interests.”

Several non-news websites were also hit by the power outage on Thursday – including government health departments, emergency services, charities, indigenous groups and even its own Facebook page.

A Facebook spokesperson said it would reverse these accidental actions, with some accounts being restored within hours.

The company said Australian media are also blocked from users outside the country.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)


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