Facebook bans news from Australian site, including Insights’ page

Facebook bans news from Australian site, including Insights’ page

You might have noticed that Insights’ Facebook page currently has no content. Neither do a number of church and community organisations’ Facebook pages.

As part of a response to a Federal government communications bill, Facebook have removed news content from the Australian version of their website.

The social media giant says that they are making the move in response to proposed regulations that would see Facebook pay news companies for their content at an agreed-upon rate.

The proposal comes after an ACCC finding suggested that press organisations should be paid a fairer rate for the content they generate.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher condemned the move, telling the ABC that, “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 organisations that employ paid journalists,’” Mr Fletcher said.

A number of church and community groups have also lost their pages as a result of Facebook’s move, however. Insights Magazine, WWF Australia, the Women’s Legal Service, and other community groups have seen their pages stripped of any content.

A number of users took to Twitter to express concerns for some of the implications that a news ban might have. The hashtag #FacebookNewsBan was trending at the time of writing.

The ban appears to be largely non-discriminatory, even temporarily removing satirical news pages such as The Chaser and The Batoota Advocate.

For their part, Facebook argue that the proposed regulations seek to penalise the social media company for content it did not request. In a company blog, Facebook Australia and New Zealand Managing Director William Easton argued that the social media giant did not solicit news links, and that companies shared them on a voluntary basis.

The incident is far from the first time that an organisation has sought to make a point by removing online content. Wikipedia temporarily took down their entire website in January 2012 as part of a protest against proposed laws that Wikipedia argued would water down net neutrality. In this case, however, the unpublishing had a specific timespan.  

It is unknown, however, as to how long Australians will be unable to find news content on Facebook.

Insights Magazine is still accessible on Twitter and Instagram.

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