You may have logged onto Facebook this morning to check your favourite news or travel pages for updates only to become dazed and confused at the lack of actual content you can view – or none at all.
What is going on here you may well ask? We certainly have.
Disappointingly, a vast number of Australian Facebook pages have had their content switched off overnight, due to a questionable action by Mark Zuckerberg and his team in response to an ongoing spat with the Australian government.
From large mainstream publications such as ABC News, The Telegraph, Australian, Sydney Morning Herald including Traveller and The Guardian Australia to smaller publications such as Junkee, Concrete Playground and Unilad, local news and bloggers.
Karryon, Travel to Change the World and all of our fellow travel media friends, including TravelTalk and Travel Daily have also all been given the boot from Facey.
In short, Zuckerberg and his cronies have hit the big red stop button in Silicon Valley without giving anyone any advance warning down here in Australia first.
And it’s not even just news which is where it gets really blurry – and even more disappointing.
In a power move which politicians have today described as “reckless’ and “irresponsible”, numerous government health, emergency and support pages, including SA Health, Queensland Health, Kids Cancer Project, as well as the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Neighbourhood Watch Victoria have also been wiped.
So much for Facebook’s stance on quashing misinformation.
Travel pages, such as Tourism Fiji, Hurtigruten, Aurora Expeditions, Bunnik Tours and Virgin Australia are also showing up with zero content as part of the collateral damage.
The same goes for some regional tourism pages too, such as Visit Geelong and The Bellarine.
Miraculously though, Flight Centre, Qantas and Jetstar’s pages are still alive and kicking.
Why is that Zuck? And why in the middle of a pandemic when credible information has never been more valued, did you choose to do this now?
What the heck is going on here?
This all stems from an ongoing debate between Facebook and the Australian Government (specifically the ACCC) over the last few months.
The debate is over the revenue that news provides and who the money should go to. Basically, the Australian government wants Facebook to pay news publishers for their content, and Facebook has retaliated by threatening to ban all Australian news content from their feeds.
Which, the giant obviously decided to do today.
In an online report released by Facebook, the social media giant writes “Unfortunately, in response to Australia’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code legislation, Facebook will have to restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook.”
“People outside of Australia also cannot view or share Australian news content or content from Australian news Pages on Facebook.”
Facebook wrote “This is not the outcome we wanted and it’s a step we take reluctantly. The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”
So many questions
This whole event raises a plethora of questions, but let’s start with the basics.
What even defines news these days?
Does an article showcasing the “7 Top Wellness Experiences In Fiji” count as news? What about “Explore Aboriginal Byron Bay”? Yeah, nah?
Because independent platforms, businesses and important services up and down the country are now being punished for sharing content that assists, informs and inspires people each and every day.
One thing that is funny (sort of) is that Facebook even managed to ban their own Facebook page in the process. Damn that algorithm.
How long will this ban last?
Good question. We have no idea nor have received any communication from Facebook regarding the details and timing of the ban. We can only assume at this stage that the ban is permanent.
Though let’s hope not. Let’s hope the powers that be see sense and restore the pages that aren’t part of this tit for tat spat as soon as possible.
What can do you?
Remember that life outside of Facebook thankfully still and always will live on. You can still visit your favourite news, media and travel pages directly.
You can sign up to their direct emailing list to get updates that way – including Karryon of course if you haven’t already.
You can still buy a newspaper or a magazine. You can download news apps to your phone. You can share links via text or chat messages.
Websites are still live, so show your devotion and give your fingers a little workout by typing, Karryon or any other website, directly into your URL.
What do you think of these Facebook bans? Let us know: [email protected]
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