Bizarre moment minister says he’s concerned the NORTH SHORE MUMS Facebook page has been impacted by the media giant’s ban on news
- Communications Minister Paul Fletcher expressed concern for a mum’s group
- Facebook on Thursday blocked Australian users from viewing or sharing news
- In response to proposed Media Bargaining Code to make platform pay for news
- But government pages including health and emergency services also blocked
- Mr Fletcher said he was particularly concerned about North Shore Mums page
A federal minister has bizarrely spoken of his concern for a local mum’s Facebook group that was shut down after the social media giant banned all news content in Australia.
Facebook on Thursday blocked Australian users from viewing or sharing all domestic and international news on the site, effective immediately.
The move is in response to the government’s proposed Media Bargaining Code, which would force tech companies like Facebook and Google to negotiate with news providers to use their content.
Crucial government information pages including the weather bureau, health departments and police agencies were also blocked temporarily in Facebook’s botched rollout.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said he was particularly worried about the North Shore Mums page based in his electorate after it too was included in the ban.
‘I have spoken this morning to the operator of North Shore Mums, which is a well-known Facebook page in my own electorate,’ he said.
‘Like a number of similar services around Australia, her page, her Facebook page, has been blocked, and that is of significant concern.’
The MP for Bradfield on Sydney’s upper-north shore was widely mocked on social media for the bizarre mention.
The Sydney MP was widely mocked on social media for expressing his concern for the mum’s group when dozens of key government pages had also been taken down on Thursday morning by Facebook
The North Shore Mums group is run by Sydney mum Rachel Chappell (pictured second from left) and has more than 22,000 likes on Facebook
‘I was doing OK with this until I knew the North Shore Mums lost their Facebook page,’ one person wrote sarcastically.
‘Not the North Shore mums! Oh the humanity,’ another said.
The Facebook group is run by Sydney mum Rachel Chappell and has more than 22,000 likes on the social media platform.
Mr Fletcher insisted the government will not back down and said Facebook could either abide by Australia’s laws or leave the country.
He said the government ‘will be proceeding’ with the new law, which passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday night and looks set to pass the Senate within days.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg slammed Facebook’s decision to remove Australian news from the social media network as ‘wrong, unnecessary and heavy-handed’
FACEBOOK’S CHANGES TO NEWS IN AUSTRALIA
Facebook has restricted publishers and social media users in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.
What does this mean for Australian news organisations?
Australian news organisations will be restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages
Admins will still be able to access Page insights and Creator Studio on their Facebook pages
Facebook said they will continue to provide access to other standard services, including data tools and CrowdTangle
What does this mean for international news organisations?
International news organisations can still post on Facebook but Australian users will not be able to see the content or share it
What does this mean for Australian Facebook users?
Australian Facebook users will not be able to view or share Australian or international news content
What does this mean for international Facebook users?
International Facebook users will not be able to view or share Australian news content on Facebook
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg earlier said the social media giant was ‘wrong’ in its controversial decision, which he believes 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,’ he said.
‘What today’s events do confirm for all Australians is the immense market power of these media digital giants.
‘They loom very, very large in our economy and on the digital landscape.’
Facebook has banned publishers and users in Australia from posting and sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing or using content on their platforms
Mr Frydenberg said the Morrison government remains committed to legislating and implementing the code.
He added the government did not know the ban would come into force on Thursday.
‘We certainly weren’t given any notice by Facebook,’ he said.
It comes after the treasurer spoke with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday – and again in the wake of Thursday’s news.
‘I spoke to him over the weekend, but I also spoke to him this morning. We had a pretty lengthy conversation, around half an hour, and it was constructive,’ he said.
How have news outlets responded?
Daily Mail Australia:
‘So much for Facebook’s commitment to free speech.
‘We are astonished by this inflammatory move which is a blatant and clumsy attempt to try and intimidate the Australian government into watering down the provisions of the ACCC code.
‘We trust Canberra’s politicians stand firm and call Facebook’s bluff by passing the legislation unchanged and enforce it to the letter of the law.’
‘It is unfortunate Facebook have taken this position and it will indeed inhibit us from sharing our quality news and information with Australians. Nobody benefits from this decision as Facebook will now be a platform for misinformation to rapidly spread without balance. This action proves again their monopoly position and unreasonable behaviour,’ a spokesperson said.
‘But today’s statement does not mean Facebook will not have to abide by the Federal Governments proposed code. Value has already been transferred and Facebook has benefited from our content for many years. We should be able to access their monopoly platform and have the right to monetise our content as a result.
‘We have been negotiating with Facebook in good faith and we remain willing to do a deal with them that provides a mutually beneficial outcome and ensures quality information is available to all Australians on their platform.’
‘ABC News is Australia’s number one digital news service and the nation’s most trusted news outlet,’ said Managing Director David Anderson.
‘The ABC’s digital news services will always remain free and accessible to all Australians on the ABC website and via the ABC News app, providing independent and reliable news, information and analysis.
‘Despite key issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic having ongoing effects on all Australians, Facebook has today removed important and credible news and information sources from its Australian platform.
‘We will continue our discussions with Facebook today following this development.’