As a response to the media bargaining code imposed by the Australian government, tech-giant Facebook is blocking Aussie users from reading and sharing news. This shocking move by Facebook comes with Australia poised to adopt legislation that would force digital platforms to pay for news content.
With that, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher stated in an interview that Facebook’s decision to stop Australian publishers and users from sharing or viewing news content sends a strong message about its credibility.
“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing. They’re effectively saying, on our platform, there will not be any information from organizations which employ paid journalists, which have fact checking processes, editorial policies. They’re effectively saying any information that is available on our site does not come from these reliable sources.”
Thus, what will the block mean to you?
On a brighter note, there’s nothing that can stop you in going directly to the website of an Australian news site to read their content. However, you just won’t see it on Facebook anymore, or be able to share these articles on your timeline to prompt further discussion with friends. That being said, it’s likely you can still send them in direct or group messages on Facebook platforms such as Messenger and WhatsApp.
Should you be outside Australia, you can still post links from international news sources, excluding news from Australia. Even if you share the said content, it still won’t be seen in the country.
Additionally, Australian users won’t be able to post links featuring the URL of any news outlets, while international user are also banned from sharing links with the URL of any Australian news outlets.
The tech-giant is imposing this ban by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to police its site, which includes in performing an early level content moderation. Given that, this isn’t always a perfect system, as Thursday morning’s implementation of the ban has shown.
Among other non-news pages being caught up in the ban include Harvey Norman, the Betoota Advocate, the ACTU and two random biking related pages. This wages aggravation with the page’s owners.
As of now, when contacted by media, Facebook’s local representatives didn’t know why the pages were being caught up in the ban.