22.02.2021     0
 

Scott Morrison stands firm against Facebook over Australian news ban


Source: 7news

Scott Morrison is standing firm against Facebook over his government’s media code, calling the social media giant arrogant and disappointing for shutting down emergency services pages along with Australian news.

Facebook banned access to news pages across Australia in response to the proposed code, which would force it to pay local media companies for content.

The prime minister says he won’t be intimidated.

“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” Mr Morrison said in a statement on his Facebook page.

“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.

“They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.”

He has implored Facebook to continue working with the government on the code.

Mr Morrison says he regularly speaks with other world leaders on the issue of big tech, in a reminder to Facebook that he implored countries to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media.

In the sweep of news pages Facebook also shut down a raft of health and emergency services, many of which have been restored.

Facebook claimed it was left with no choice, arguing the bargaining code was poorly worded.

“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted,” it said in a statement.

“However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted.”

Smaller groups like the Danila Dilba Health Service, an Aboriginal organisation, were still blocked on Thursday evening.

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service says both Facebook and the government’s actions are disappointing.

“Being collateral damage in the political stoush of the rich and powerful does serious damage to our work and risks compounding the systemic discrimination that leads to marginalised people having worse outcomes in justice, health, education, and ultimately mortality,” the group said.

Another group whose Facebook page remained shut down late on Thursday was Queensland’s RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, a medical evacuation service that relies heavily on community contributions.

Queensland Health has been caught up in the Facebook news ban.
Queensland Health has been caught up in the Facebook news ban. Credit: Supplied
So has Victoria Police
So has Victoria Police Credit: Supplied
Even The Betoota has been shown the door.
Even The Betoota has been shown the door. Credit: Facebook
The AFL page has been kept active.
The AFL page has been kept active. Credit: Facebook
Facebook has been accused of “killing women’s footy” .
Facebook has been accused of “killing women’s footy” . Credit: Facebook
Another page caught up in the change to the social media giant’s policy.
Another page caught up in the change to the social media giant’s policy. Credit: Facebook
Facebook’s new algorithm doesn’t even recognise Facebook as a legitimate page.
Facebook’s new algorithm doesn’t even recognise Facebook as a legitimate page. Credit: Facebook

In a statement the group said news about its lifesaving work had “significant reach on Facebook” and it had been trying without success throughout the day to persuade the social media giant to restore its charity page.

The media bargaining code is before the Senate after clearing the first hurdle of parliament.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has lashed Facebook for its heavy-handed censorship of Australian news and information, while Health Minister Greg Hunt warned there was a risk misinformation would spread in the gaps created by Facebook.

Facebook gave the treasurer no notice of the news ban.

The company first threatened to ban news for Australians in August and repeated the ultimatum before a Senate inquiry in January.

The ban restricts Australian users and publishers from viewing or sharing domestic and international news.

Overseas users will be unable to access Australian news.

Australians can no longer view or share news content on Facebook.
Australians can no longer view or share news content on Facebook. Credit: Getty

Labor supports the media code but has criticised the government’s handling of negotiations with the tech companies.

Google meanwhile is striking deals in Australia to pay for journalism.

News Corp has become the latest publisher to sign an agreement with Google.

The internet giant has already struck deals with Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment, and is in talks with public broadcasters ABC and SBS, as well as Guardian Australia.

Facebook on Thursday said it was continuing its third-party fact-checking partnerships with newswires AAP and AFP, reviewing content and debunking false claims online.

Frydenberg v Facebook: Treasurer takes Zuckerberg to task

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday slammed Facebook after the social media giant banned Australian news outlets, as well as crucial government pages, from posting.

“In respect to Facebook’s actions today, Facebook was wrong,” Frydenberg told reporters on Thursday.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has slammed Facebook after the social media giant banned Australian news outlets, as well as crucial government pages, from posting.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has slammed Facebook after the social media giant banned Australian news outlets, as well as crucial government pages, from posting. Credit: 7NEWS

“Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia.

“Their decision to block Australians’ access to government sites — be they about support through the pandemic, mental health, emergency services, the Bureau of Meteorology — were completely unrelated to the media code which is yet to pass through the Senate.

“But what today’s events do confirm for all Australians is the immense market power of these media digital giants.

“These digital giants loom very, very large in our economy and on the digital landscape.”

Frydenberg added he spoke to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday morning but was blindsided by the ban, adding the government would not be stepping down.

“I also want to point out that Facebook had been, up to this point, engaged in pretty constructive discussions with the Australian news media businesses,” he said.

“They had made quite a lot of progress.

“The Morrison government’s position is very clear — we will legislate this code.

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag

“We want the digital giants paying traditional news media businesses for generating original journalistic content. This is critical to sustaining public interest journalism in this country, and this is world-leading.”

‘Wrong action’

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher added the action taken by the social media giant would have significant impacts on the community.

“The fact that there are organisations like state health departments, fire and emergency services and so on who have had their Facebook pages blocked — that’s a public safety issue,” Fletcher said.

“I’ve spoken to Facebook this morning and said the government expects them to restore those pages as quickly as possible.

“We are very clear that we think this is the wrong action by Facebook.”

Facebook claims it has been left with no choice, arguing the bargaining code is poorly worded.

“As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

“However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted.”

Facebook first threatened to ban news for Australians in August and repeated the ultimatum before a Senate inquiry in January.


Об авторе: Katy Silenko