Powered by momentummedia
nestegg logo
Powered by momentummedia
nestegg logo
nestegg logo

Earn

Facebook blocks access to health and emergency services

  • February 18 2021
  • Share

Earn

Facebook blocks access to health and emergency services

By Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
February 18 2021

UPDATE: Facebook has confirmed for nestegg that while government pages "should not" be impacted, it has taken a broad definition of news content "in order to respect the law as drafted". 

Facebook blocks access to health and emergency services

Facebook blocks access to health and emergency services

author image
  • February 18 2021
  • Share

UPDATE: Facebook has confirmed for nestegg that while government pages "should not" be impacted, it has taken a broad definition of news content "in order to respect the law as drafted". 

Facebook blocks access to health and emergency services

Health and emergency services have been caught in the crossfire between Facebook and the Australian government, with the Treasurer confirming on Thursday that this has become a “public safety issue”.

“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,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in his address to the media on Thursday.

Mr Frydenberg revealed that Australia wasn’t given “any notice” before Facebook dumped all local and international news content from Australian pages on Thursday morning. But the Treasurer took particular issue with official pages - including governmental health organisations and social services - finding themselves in the midst of the row, despite being outside of the scope of the new media bargaining law. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Official government services that appear to currently be impacted by Facebook's move include the Bureau of Meteorology, Western Sydney Health, South Australia Health, Queensland Health, the ACT and Tasmanian governments.

“The Bureau's #Facebook page has been impacted by the broader Facebook changes. The latest forecasts and warnings are always available at http://bom.gov.au, on the #BOMweather app, and posted to our national, and State/Territory Twitter accounts http://media.bom.gov.au/social-media/,” the Bureau of Meteorology Tweeted.

Also stripped of posts are anti-domestic violence groups, including the national sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service 1800Respect.

“Please be aware that the 1800RESPECT #Facebook page is currently down due to some changes in the platform. We are aware of the issue and our representatives are working to correct it. The 1800RESPECT service is operating as usual. 1800 737 732,” 1800Respect Tweeted.

Responding to nestegg's request, a spokesperson for Facebook said: “government pages should not be impacted by today's announcement. The actions we're taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content. 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.

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

It is yet unclear when this is expected to happen. 

Australia to push ahead 

Despite his public safety concerns, Mr Frydenberg confirmed that Australia would be going ahead with legislating and implementing the code.

“The Morrison government remains absolutely committed to legislating and implementing the code,” said Mr Frydenberg. 

“We want the digital giants paying traditional news channels for journalist content,” he added. 

Mr Frydenberg also alluded to Facebook’s long-term brand damage, opining that Facebook’s actions are “heavy handed” and that “they damage its reputation here in Australia”. 

“We’ll see if we can find a path forward,” he said. 

Facebook confirmed it was moving to restrict “publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing” news on Wednesday evening. 

Facebook’s director for Australia and New Zealand, Willian Easton, said Australia’s proposed new media bargaining law misunderstands the platforms relationship with publishers who use it to share news content.

“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter,” said Mr Easton.

Facebook blocks access to health and emergency services
Facebook blocks access to health and emergency services
nestegg logo

Forward this article to a friend. Follow us on Linkedin. Join us on Facebook. Find us on Twitter for the latest updates
Rate the article

About the author

author image

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of nestegg and Smart Property Investment. Email Maja at [email protected]

About the author

author image
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of nestegg and Smart Property Investment. Email Maja at [email protected]

more on this topic

more on this topic

More articles

Website Notifications

Get notifications in real-time for staying up to date with content that matters to you.