Facebook is angry that australia wants social media giants to pay for the content reposted from news outlets. Well, the move also cut off streams from weather health and emergency services. Although the social media company says that that was a mistake and is now restoring those pages from sydney shaima khalil reports, this is what australians woke up to empty news feeds on their facebook pages after the platform blocked all local and international media outlets. A dramatic escalation in a continued dispute with the government over paying for news content, facebook’s change, didn’t just target news. It also denied australians access to many pages for charities and essential services, as well as several key government agencies, including health departments and the weather bureau. The ban prompted an immediate backlash with many users angered by their sudden loss of access to trusted sources of information. Facebook banning news is terrible. Actually, i do use facebook, it seems to be a catch all and i can get all of my news in the one spot, they’re, so big and so widely used by australians that they’ll just people will just revolt against it. Like honestly, like especially the younger generation, people are very like ingrained in facebook, so i don’t know how easy it will be for people to just change that the government was also swift to react. Facebook was wrong. Facebook, its actions were unnecessary, they were heavy handed and they will damage its reputation here in australia. This is outrageous and unacceptable.

We expect that facebook will fix these actions immediately and never repeat them again. This is an assault on a sovereign nation. It is an assault on people’s freedom and in particular it is an utter abuse of big technologies, market power and control over technology. The prime minister, scott morrison, slammed the social media company’s action as arrogant and disappointing. Under the proposed legislation, tech giants will be forced to enter into payment negotiations with news outlets over payment for content. That appears on their platforms and if they can’t agree, a government arbitrator would get involved. But facebook has criticized the law saying it. Doesn’T reflect how the internet works and unfairly penalizes it for content it didn’t ask for this fallout is about facebook, making a point. Many are watching this closely and the social media giant knows that if it starts paying for news content here in australia, other nations could make similar demands. This news block may backfire. Some experts have described it as anti democratic and a dangerous turn of events, and while facebook asserts its power and influence with this move, the fear is that it may also do its reputation. Some serious damage, shai mahalil bbc news sydney well i’m joined now by dr susanna elliott, the ceo of the australian science media center. The smc is a not for profit organization which provides australian media with quotes from scientists. Uh welcome doctor to the programme i’m, just wondering what your assessment is of what’s happened in australia at the moment, um right so i mean basically it’s it’s, a power struggle really between facebook and our federal government it’s.

To put it simply and who is winning that power struggle in your eyes, gosh, i think it’s a bit early to say um. You know i mean some of the experts that we’ve been talking to have been basically saying you know, let’s see who blinks first it’s a bit like a a gun fight. You know, i think that facebook had to back down a little bit today, because they had blocked some incredibly important sites, including some emergency services and department of health sites and uh. You know, i think, that wasn’t a good look for facebook. What so one mark against facebook sure i mean uh when we think about you, know the science media center and your own news flow. How has this ban affected your work and the work that you do with journalists? Well, our facebook site was blocked and it’s still blocked, but, to be honest, it hasn’t had a huge imp impact on us as a as an organization, because we work very closely with journalists and journalists on the whole do not source their news from facebook. So, luckily, for us um that hasn’t been a huge issue for us so far. I know that you have contact with a large group of experts. You know in the media industry there i mean what is their reaction been to the ban, and you know what are they telling you about? How perhaps this the implications of this ruling and how to move forward? Um yeah look there’s a lot of there’s a wide variety of reactions, as you can imagine, uh, depending on the kind of experts that we’re talking to we uh saw some comments from about 14 different experts today, and you know i mean their reaction ranges from outrage.

There are some that are extremely concerned about uh facebook blocking news sites just before we’re about to roll out the vaccination. The covert 19 vaccination program – and i guess what they’re particularly worried about – is the idea that by blocking news sites it then by default, will you know, bring or emphasize potentially misinformation so it’s, not that facebook is obviously trying to promote misinformation. But when you take away the news, then you know by default that’s what happens. It becomes more higher profile, so that’s a major concern. Some experts actually see this as an opportunity. They think that this is it’s about time that people started really looking seriously at the news that they are consuming and that they start looking beyond facebook for their news, so um yeah. So i think those are the sort of two major views that we’re getting from experts. Do you think it’s going to impact your strategy in terms of your organization and how you work in the future? Um? No, probably not. I think the main thing for us is that we’re really focused on trying to make sure that the public gets access to evidence based science through the news media.

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