UPDATED 3:37 PM PT – Thursday, February 18, 2021
Millions of Australian citizens and government officials took to social media to criticize Facebook’s decision to ban news content in their country. As part of the ban, Facebook blocked access to several government accounts, which deprived Australian citizens of important information.
What Facebook has blocked in Australia so far:
– All news media (local and global)
– Health authorities (and their pandemic/vaccine updates)
– Police and emergency services
– Weather bureau (during bushfire/flood season)
– Domestic violence helpline
– Politicians' accounts
— Frances Mao (@francesmao) February 17, 2021
Australians said Facebook’s actions amount to blatant interference with their domestic affairs.
“Yeah, I think it’s crazy,” Sydney resident Doug Neale said. “I’m a software developer, so I’m fascinated to see how the ban is actually affecting other sites that are getting crashed.”
So @Facebook has blocked access to our website. We are not a news organisation. Australian workers can not now find out about their rights at work via @Facebook. This is disgraceful & needs to be reversed immediately pic.twitter.com/588Qf1JbuD
— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) February 17, 2021
“This is outrageous and unacceptable,” Minister for Health Greg Hunt (L-Victoria) said. “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 technology’s market power and control over technology. This will go around the world, but this stops. This is unacceptable.”
In response, Australian users left Facebook and switched to Telegram.