Facebook blocks news content in Australia

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GBNEWS24 DESK//

Facebook has blocked Australian users from sharing or viewing news content on the platform, causing much alarm over public access to key information, reports BBC.

Australians woke up on Thursday to find the Facebook pages of all local and global news sites were unavailable.

Several government health, emergency and other pages were also blocked on Thursday – something the tech giant later asserted was a mistake.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described as “arrogant” and “disappointing” a decision by Facebook to block all media content for users in Australia.

The move by the social media giant is a surprise escalation of a dispute with the government over paying for content.

It was swiftly criticised by news producers, politicians and human rights advocates, particularly as it became clear that official health pages, emergency safety warnings and welfare networks had all been scrubbed from the site along with news.

“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” Mr Morrison wrote on his own Facebook page.

“These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.”

Facebook’s move represents a split from Alphabet Inc-owned Google after they joined together for years to campaign against the laws.

Both had threatened to cancel services in Australia, but Google has instead sealed pre-emptive deals with several outlets in recent days.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was the latest to announce a deal in which it will receive “significant payments” from Google in return for providing content for the search engine’s News Showcase account.

Google declined to comment on the Facebook decision.

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