Facebook Blocks Its Own Page in Botched Australia News Ban

PM accuses company of 'unfriending' country
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2021 7:52 AM CST
PM Slams Facebook for 'Unfriending' Australia
A disclaimer is shown on the bottom of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology page on the Facebook app Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Facebook blocked Australians from sharing news Thursday amid a dispute over a proposed law—but news outlets weren't the only ones who found themselves blocked. The ban affected dozens of pages run by state governments, health authorities, charities, and even Facebook's own page, the Guardian reports. State health departments said it was "extremely concerning" that they had been blocked from sharing information during a pandemic. Facebook said it would restore pages that had been "inadvertently impacted" by the move. Since the proposed law requiring Facebook and Google to pay Australian news organizations for content "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," the company said.

"We’re in the middle of a pandemic," tweeted lawmaker Mark Butler. "Australians need to hear from credible voices in the vaccine rollout. This is completely irresponsible from Facebook." Facebook abruptly blocked Australians from sharing news stories and Australian news organizations from posting after the country's House of Representatives passed the bill requiring it to pay for content, though it has yet to become law, the AP reports. "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 Prime Minister Scott Morrison. "They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it." Google, which had threatened to cut off service to Australia, said Wednesday that it had worked out deals with media companies. (More Facebook stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.