Why Did Facebook Ban News Content in Australia Amid a Pandemic?

The move inadvertently also resulted banning pages of government health departments, fire and rescue and charities.

1 min read

If you are a Facebook user in Australia, you may have woken up to a very different news feed on 18 February. And don’t worry, your account was not hacked.

The social media giant took the nuclear option in response to the Australian government’s proposed law that would require big tech platforms like Facebook and Google to reach commercial agreements and strike revenue deals with news outlets whose content drives traffic on these platforms.

And in the early hours of 18 February, Facebook actually followed through on its earlier threat that it will ban all news websites and also the option for users to share news links.

But the move inadvertently also resulted banning Facebook pages of government health departments, fire and rescue, Suicide Prevention Australia, charities and somehow, Facebook’s own official page as well.

And this is a cause of concern because Australia is actually a few days away from a national COVID-19 vaccine rollout. However, executives at Facebook were quick to realise of this fumble and apologised for the error. But, according to Facebook, the pages of government departments will take at least a week to come back.

In today’s episode, we will go through why Facebook has banned news in the middle of a pandemic. Will misinformation and conspiracy theories fill the void that news outlets left and what does this step mean for other countries like India?

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