Facebook is being flayed in Australia after its ban on sharing of links to news publications caught plenty of websites that have nothing to do with news.
The Social Network™ announced its ban with a blog post and the sudden erasure of all posts on certain Facebook pages.
Links to news outlets big and small (including The Register) are currently impossible to post to Facebook from within Australia. Australian Facebook users don’t see news links posted from outside the nation.
Which is as Facebook intended to show its displeasure with Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, a newly legislated scheme that forces Facebook to negotiate payments with local news publishers for the privilege of linking to their content.
But when Facebook implemented its ban, an online bookstore, charities, and even a domestic violence support service saw their Facebook presences erased. Australia’s national Basketball and Rugby bodies also saw their pages sent to the sin bin.
Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today … were arrogant and disappointing
Facebook said that the breadth of its blocks is regrettable, but as Australia’s 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.”
This leaves Facebook in the interesting position of telling advertisers it offers superior micro-targeting services, while telling the world it is unable to tell the difference between a newspaper and a bookshop.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison used Facebook to say “Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.”
While Australia facepalms at Facebook’s clumsiness, publishers and politicians around the world have expressed dismay that Facebook has banned news and, by doing so, again demonstrated its ability to shape public discourse.
That Facebook’s contribution to public conversations has so often been to infuse them with misinformation, then promise to do better by ensuring that higher-quality content such as public interest journalism becomes more prominent, has not gone unnoticed.
So a country tells FB to pay for news or not show it and is then suprised that stuff starts dissappearing from FB?
And to complete the shakedown by the Aussie government, read: Facebook ‘Endangered Public Safety’ by Blocking News During Pandemic According to Australia