Facebook has cut off Australians from receiving and viewing news posts on its platform amid an ongoing dispute with the Australian government. The controversy stems from a continuing debate in the Australian Parliament over whether tech companies, who use and profit off news provided by media agencies, should pay those publishers for their content.
In response to the legislation, Facebook decided this week to make good on their threat to block Australian users from seeing news on the platform.
Faced with Facebook’s decision, some Aussie users woke up on Thursday to find they were caught up in Facebook’s algorithm change.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, Marcey Papandrea, who has spent years using Facebook to drive traffic to her website, found that her page had been blocked on Thursday morning.
“I have no idea what Facebook’s algorithm would be that someone like me would be targeted,” said Ms. Papandrea. “At the end of the day, this is like a mudslinging contest.”
The dispute began after members of the Australian Parliament proposed legislation last year that would empower news companies to receive payment from tech companies, like Facebook and Google, when news articles are posted on their platforms, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Though the legislation has not yet become law, the purpose of it is to protect local media companies who see their content used by tech companies to make a profit.
“Publishers have long sought compensation from Google and Facebook, which collect ad revenue based on visits to their sites and increase their traffic by including links to news articles,” The WSJ reports.
“This is a battle worth fighting,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. “We believe this is crucial for the future viability of our media sector.”
Regarding Facebook’s decision to shut off the news, ex-Australian Facebook CEO Stephen Scheeler said that all Australians should be “quite alarmed” and urged users in the country to “delete the app.”
“For Facebook and Mark it’s too much about the money, and the power, and not about the good,” Scheeler said. “Imagine if a Chinese company for example had done this, we would be up in arms. All Australians should be quite alarmed by this.”
The controversy comes just days after Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg landed in hot water after a newly released Project Veritas video showed the billionaire violating Facebook’s own community guidelines on COVID-19.
The company’s official policy, updated on December 3, 2020, states that Facebook will remove any post that makes “false claims about these vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.”
Yet, in July of 2020, in a secretly recorded video, Zuckerberg claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine could modify people’s DNA, a claim that has been repeatedly refuted by public health experts.
“We just don’t know the long-term side effects of basically modifying people’s DNA and RNA… basically the ability to produce those antibodies and whether that causes other mutations or other risks downstream,” Zuckerberg said at the time.
On one of Focus on the Family’s daily broadcasts, infectious disease specialist Dr. Scott James said that the COVID-19 vaccines could not alter someone’s DNA.
The vaccine is “not going to interact with our DNA. There’s no real mechanism, even scientifically for it to do that, or insert itself, or in any other way change or alter our DNA,” Dr. James said.
With big tech companies becoming larger and more powerful by the day, debates over legislation regulating the platforms will likely continue to heat up at home and abroad.
Unfortunately, since The Daily Citizen provides relevant and timely news content related to the family, religious freedom, free speech and other topics, anyone living in Australia likely won’t be able to read this article.
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