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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Australian Facebook users react with horror at provocative move to ban news Down Under

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Australians have reacted with shock and outrage after waking up to the bombshell announcement that Facebook has banned the sharing of news articles from its platform.

The move is in response to the proposed Media Bargaining law, which would force tech companies like Facebook and Google to negotiate with news providers to feature their content.

Facebook’s decision mean its 13 million monthly users in Australia, including the nine million who use the site daily, can no longer view any news – even from foreign websites.

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says the shock move shows Facebook ‘is not the place for reliable news’ government maintain the path ‘that we’ve been following.’

Facebook 'is not the place for reliable news', according to federal communications minister Paul Fletcher (pictured)

Facebook ‘is not the place for reliable news’, according to federal communications minister Paul Fletcher (pictured)

‘There are already questions about the credibility of information and sources on the Facebook platform,’ he told 2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham.

‘They’re basically saying to Australians: ‘If you’re looking for reliable news, Facebook is not the place to look for it.’

‘It’s certainly something that raises concern… the government will consider this very carefully.’

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg spent early Thursday morning in ‘constructive discussions’ with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

‘He raised a few remaining issues with the government’s news media bargaining code and we agreed to continue our conversation to try to find a pathway forward,’ the treasurer later wrote.

Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie (pictured) believes Facebook feared it risked becoming 'irrelevant'

Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie (pictured) believes Facebook feared it risked becoming ‘irrelevant’

The ban has stunned ABC News Breakfast co-host Michael Rowland, who tweeted: ‘Facebook to ban users in Australia from viewing or sharing Australian and international news content. Wow!’

He later tweeted that the ABC Facebook feed had gone black. 

‘Unbelievable,’ he posted. 

Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie later told the program Facebook risked becoming ‘irrelevant’.

‘Look, I guess we’re a small market in Australia and I guess Facebook feels that they can flex their muscles,’ she said.

‘Ultimately, I think they would have to be very careful that they don’t become irrelevant. We can all only look at so many funny cat videos. 

‘People mainly get their news content from Facebook or other services and I think people will perhaps look at other platforms if Facebook aren’t willing to share.     

Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has been in early morning discussions with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (pictured)

Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has been in early morning discussions with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (pictured)

Other journalists have taken to Twitter to express their shock. 

‘Facebook’s move to stop Australians from seeing or sharing news content will only see more disinformation spread on FB, with no ability to post factual news stories to rebut the nonsense. This is very worrying,’ Guardian journalist Josh Taylor told News Breakfast.

Facebook pulled the plug after the News Media Bargaining Code passed the House on Wednesday, and looked set to pass the Senate and become law within days.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who ferociously grilled Facebook and Google representatives in a senate inquiry last month slammed the move.

‘Blocking Australian news overnight, while allowing hate speech and dangerous conspiracy theories run rampant.

Facebook has just confirmed it really is just FakeBook,’ she said.

 

More to follow. 

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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