Social media giant Facebook has reportedly censored the pages of several Australian government agencies, non-profits, businesses, and briefly Facebook’s own official page in the country as the site implemented a ban on all news content in Australia.
Forbes reports that the Facebook pages of several Australian agencies like the Bureau of Meteorology, Department of Fire and Emergency Services Western Australia, and the health department pages of multiple Australian states including South Australia, NSW, and Queensland have been taken down by Facebook.
Posts have been removed from the Queensland and SA health department Facebook pages pic.twitter.com/N2K8NlFTSq
— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) February 17, 2021
Several non-profits have also been affected including the Council to Homeless Persons, the Kids Cancer Project, and other groups such as the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
So @Facebook has blocked access to our website. We are not a news organisation. Australian workers can not now find out about their rights at work via @Facebook. This is disgraceful & needs to be reversed immediately pic.twitter.com/588Qf1JbuD
— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) February 17, 2021
The move comes shortly after Facebook implemented a ban on all news content in Australia in response to recently proposed legislation that would force tech giants like Facebook and Google to compensate publishers for accessing their content.
Facebook told Engadget that Government and non-news Pages should not be impacted by its new band and promised to reverse the ban on any Facebook Pages that were “inadvertently impacted.” The company stated:
Government and non-news Pages should not be impacted by today’s announcement. The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content. As the law does not provide a clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted. However, we will reverse any Pages that are inadvertently impacted.
Australian Prime Minister had harsh words for Facebook over the move, stating in a Facebook post:
Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.
These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.
We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code. Just as we weren’t intimidated when Amazon threatened to leave the country and when Australia drew other nations together to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media platforms.
I encourage Facebook to constructively work with the Australian Government, as Google recently demonstrated in good faith.
Read more about Facebook and Google’s position in Australia at Breitbart News here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org