Facebook has finally reached a deal with Australia. After a standstill with the Australian government over fair compensation for providing media content to the site, Facebook has unblocked Australian news pages.
But many other pages were blocked in the process. Some had nothing to do with the news. Some had nothing to do with Australia. And their content was deleted and made unshareable. It’s just the latest gaffe for a company that seems to specialize in them.
It all started when Australia decided that they were getting a raw deal from companies like Facebook and Google . Media outlets provide these platforms with content, and they essentially make it a place that people want to visit. But they don’t get paid by these billion-dollar companies.
Australia decided that they were not okay with that by proposing a new law that would force these companies to pay up.
And Facebook opposed the law with everything it had. Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said that the law “ignores the reality” of the relationship Facebook has with publishers. He claimed that publishers used Facebook to share their content, as opposed to Facebook stealing it. And that is partially true.
But it’s also true that Facebook uses the content for its own benefit—to keep people hooked on its site.
While Australia reached a deal with Google, Facebook escalated the fight by banning all news outlets on its platform.
Check out this video describing the overstep:
That ban ended on Tuesday after Australia adjusted its new law. It means that Facebook won’t be penalized as long as it reaches some sort of deal with Australian media companies to pay for their news.
But in its battle to keep its billions of dollars clutched, Facebook affected the livelihood of thousands of other innocent bystanders.
In the process of trying to ban all news media in Australia, Facebook blocked pages that had nothing to do with the news. It also blocked pages that had nothing to do with Australia.
Our sister site, Hacked.com, was blocked on the platform for no apparent reason . It’s a cybersecurity website that’s based in Norway. And yet, all of the posts from 2021 were deleted.
When Hacked reached out to Facebook, it gave this generic response:
It didn’t even have the decency to apologize. The site conveniently published an article that was critical of Facebook just before it was silenced.
If banning random websites was the worst it did, then maybe we could overlook this mistake. But Facebook did far more than that.
It also banned fire and emergency services, health agencies, food banks, and domestic violence charities. Needless to say, some of these organizations are vital during a pandemic.
Check out this tweet from FoodBank Australia Cheif Executive Brianna Casey:
Representatives from Queensland Health criticized Facebook for blocking their page as they were trying to roll out vaccine updates.
Brendan Crabb, director and CEO of the Melbourne-based Burnet Institute medical research group, told CNN Business:
We are in the midst of a once in a century global pandemic. Has there ever been a time when the general population is more in need of quality, highly reliable, up-to-date health information?
Great question, Brendan.
So let’s recap. To hold money away from some news websites, a company worth nearly a trillion dollars went on a page blocking spree that shut down communications for emergency services, health organizations, and generally innocent bystanders.
This is the company that recently had to shut down thousands of QAnon accounts that were leading to violent acts. Why? Because Facebook had previously promoted QAnon and proliferated the conspiracy theory throughout the world.
And why did QAnon even come to be in the first place? Because Facebook helped Donald Trump get elected in 2016 by illegally sharing our data.
Considering the swiftness in which we will cancel a regular person for acting imperfectly, it’s amazing that we allow sites like Facebook to stick around.
Maybe it’s because Facebook keeps us hooked by stealing attention-grabbing headlines from news sources they’re trying not to pay.