Facebook’s New Look in Australia: News and Hospitals Out, Aliens Still In
Sydney, Australia – A shocked country on Facebook gave a jolt on Thursday: the news was gone.
The social media giant had decided Block journalism in australia The country of arguments that developed as a regular platform for Facebook or politics, instead of paying companies that presented it under law before Parliament.
And then the Australians found out that it was not just the staples that were missing. Pages were also cleared for state health departments and emergency services. The Bureau of Meteorology provides weather data in the middle of the fire season – blank. An opposition candidate for office in Western Australia, just a few weeks before the election – Every message, gone.
Even the pages of non-profit organizations providing information to domestic violence victims fell into Facebook dragout, as well as to organizations that work with poor and vulnerable people.
Ellen Pearson, Australia Director of Human Rights Watch, said, “It’s so scary when you’re Australia’s director in Human Rights Watch, which has lost its own Facebook post to deaths in the Australian police custody in the Myanmar coup and many other cases . ” Subject.
More frightening was what remained: dedicated pages Aliens and UFOs; Called for a community group “Say No to Vaccines”; And lots of conspiracy theories, some linking false 5G to infertility, others spreading lies about Bill Gates and the end of the world.
Australians could hardly believe what they were seeing. For most of the day, millions of them seemed to be wandering around Facebook, panicked after the flood, to see what was washed away and what was still around.
Facebook initially blamed the proposed legislation (which is expected to be passed within days) to disappear, including what it called a very broad definition of the law. Later in the day, Facebook promised to revive important public service pages, which slowly came back online.
But by that point, many Australians were already splitting into opinion groups – all annoyed, but with very different views of what went wrong and what should happen next.
Group 1: This is Facebook’s fault, and it was deliberate
Australia’s federal treasurer, Josh Friedenberg, who is charged with overseeing the implementation of the law, first announced on Thursday that Facebook’s actions had exposed abusive tactics seeking government intervention.
He added, “Today’s events confirm to all Australians that these digital giants have enormous market power”.
Many said they believed Facebook was just as important as what it erased – to show that tampering with the world’s largest social network would hurt more than just the big players in the Australian publication.
“This is definitely not an accident,” said Tanya Notley, a senior lecturer in communications at the University of Western Sydney.
“They knew it was going to exclude far more than the news organizations,” she said. “This is absolutely shocking because we agree on how much is missing.”
In Human Rights Watch, Ms. Pearson said she would be speaking on Facebook in the coming days, which would appear to her to be a decision made to “prove a point” that either lacks capacity or has human impact. Be a little worried.
Closing the pages for firefighters, hospitals, state health departments – it all felt irresponsible, if not cruel.
“This is really worrying,” he said, “when you see a huge amount of electricity by a private company.”
Group 2: Law is terrible
What if the problem is not Facebook, but the law?
Australia’s legislation is intended to force large tech platforms to negotiate with news publishers with the threat of rapid, eventual arbitration if they cannot arrive at a deal. Critics on Thursday spoke louder than usual, saying the law mistakenly accepted the fact that Google and Facebook had stolen advertising dollars from newspapers and other media companies.
This could be an argument by Rupert Murdoch, who is quite comfortable with Australia’s conservative government. And, yes, Facebook is now in a lonely situation Google has already backed up, Agreeing to pay millions of dollars to Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp. and other publishers.
But many economists question those underlying assumptions as well as the government’s proposed solution. He says that a lot of the ads that once filled newspapers ran not on the huge digital platform, but on real estate apps and other sites, some of which offer better services than older media companies that have made their digital transition Used incorrectly.
There may also be better ways to finance journalism – with higher taxes or fees that can help pay for extended public broadcasting or other public service reporting.
“High-quality news and analytics is a public good, and that’s why we fund NPR and ABC,” Jim Minifie, a consultant with an economist with lateral economics, who specializes in digital public policy Is, for national public radio in the United States, citing the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “If you want to do the same with private news providers, well, do it with tax revenue.”
Under the proposed legislation, incentives do not align with producing the most meaningful journalism – more tied to payment volume and traffic.
Group 3: Mate, it might be for the best
Facebook’s widespread approach to blocked news effectively slapped Australia in the face, such as the plate on its cheek.
Johan Lindberg, a professor of media, film and journalism at Monash University in Melbourne, said Facebook’s “incredibly heavy-handed strategy” would backfire as the public and politicians now became even more united in hatred.
“You can see Friedenberg and Morrison smiling,” he said, referring to Treasurer and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who issued a statement – on Facebook – condemning his “actions” to deceive Australia.
“They know they are a winner,” continued Mr. Lindberg. “Very little love for Facebook has been lost among the public, especially after its bullying tactics.”
One possible result is that Facebook users look elsewhere. Kripki, an independent news outlet, is encouraging with a simple message: “Don’t get caught.” Get news directly from the source. “
Some smaller publishers will find it difficult. Neomi Moran, vice president of First Nations Media, an organization of news organizations in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, said that many of its outlets focused exclusively on Facebook distribution – “and now it’s gone.”
However, Australians are also getting creative. Some journalists have already found a workaround, whether it be posting pictures of news on Facebook or disassociating themselves from the media.
For some at least, Facebook’s elimination of news and credible information confirmed that it was time to leave the platform.
Jonathan Howard, owner of Tweed valley weekly, A small regional newspaper north of Sydney with a circulation of around 20,000, said that he and his partners had been thinking for some time that focusing on Facebook was not good for their publication or their community.
“Conversation there, it’s not a calculation or thought-process,” he said. “It’s like Whingbook” – what we think of today and who hates. It’s all about who’s upset. “
He said that cutting down on Facebook can be good for everyone.
“I have a feeling that I am stepping forward,” he said, noting that I could still pay bills and staff and I wouldn’t have to be there all day. “
Livia Albeck-Repka contributed reporting from Melbourne, Australia.