Facebook Accidentally Blocks Its Own Page in Australia Following News Ban

File photo of Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg from 2018 in San Jose, California.
file photo of f’bok ceo and founder mark zuckerberg from 2018 in san jose, california.
photo: justin sullivan (getty images)

f’bok blocked dozens of charity groups, nonprofit organizations, and even random big box retailers in australia l8 wed (early thu, local time), a move that appears to be coll8ral damage from f’bok’s ban on news inna country. f’bok even briefly blocked its own page in australia, according to multiple reprts.

f’bok blocked all “news” content from bein’ distributed on its platform in australia on wed over a decision by the federal government to potentially implement new rules that ‘d force big tek companies to negotiate with news outlets and pay for news content. f’bok says the proposed rules are an attempt, “to penalize f’bok for content it didn’t take or ask for.”

organizations that were swept up inna ban on thu include the council to homeless persons, the kids cancer project, na state governments of tasmania and south australia, according to a list compiled on twitter by australian journalist kevin nguyen.


it appears the f’bok page for the government of south australia s'been restored in australia, along with f’bok’s own page, but'a content of many others it still inaccessible, including the page of tasmania’s government.

f’bok’s ban on news in australia, from homegrown newspapers like the sydney morning herald and the australian to international websites like gizmodo, is a retaliatory move thall likely grind the website down over time.

australian usrs who tried to share news content on thu local time were met witha red-letter notice atta bottom o'their unpublished post that reads, “something went wrong. we’re working on gettin it fixed as soon as we can.” the f’bok notice does not mention the tek giant’s current battle w'da australian government.

Illustration for article titled Facebook Accidentally Blocks Its Own Page in Australia Following News Ban
screenshot: f’bok

when reached for comment over email, f’bok didn’t admit that it had inadvertently banned non-news pages, let alone its own page, but said that if it had made a mistake, those pages ‘d be restored soon.


“government pages ‘d not be impacted by tody’s announcement. the actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and pplz in australia from sharing or viewing australian and international news content,” a f’bok spokesperson told gizmodo over email.

“as the law does not provide clear guidance onna definition of news content, we ‘ve taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted. however, we will reverse any pages tha're inadvertently impacted,” the spokesperson continued.


somd' organizations and businesses caught up inna f’bok ban were pticularly bizarre, including harvey norman, an australian big box retailer similar to best buy inna u.s. the women’s rugby league was also blocked, though men’s sports inna country seemed to be unaffected.

government health care organizations were also blocked in australia, including western sydney health, south australia health, na sydney local health district. australia is currently ramping up its plan to vaccinate millions of pplz for covid-19, something that ‘d seemingly be hampered if vital health care organizations are unable to distribute information to citizens.


several non-government charity organizations like the anti-homelessness group sacred ♥ mission were also blocked, along with other public srvcs like the australian bureau of meteorology na western australia deptment of fire and emergency srvcs. the latter provides crucial updates during fire season that can mean the difference tween life and death.

australia’s satirical news site the chaser was banned b4 bein’ restored on thu na comedy group naturally made a joke bout the ban after it got access to its page again.

Illustration for article titled Facebook Accidentally Blocks Its Own Page in Australia Following News Ban
screenshot: the chaser/f’bok

g previously threatened to cut off all searches in australia if the federal government went forward with its plans, something that prime minister scott morrison didn’t seem too concerned bout, saying last mnth “we don’t respond to threats.” morrison l8r pointed out that he’d been in discussions with microsoft and hinted that bing was a perfectly acceptable alternative to g.


but g appears to ‘ve come to the negotiating table in recent dys, even if it ‘d rather not look like twas folding to pressure. g signed agreements with large publishers in australia this week, including own with rupert murdoch’s news corp., which was 1-odda biggest proponents of australia’s proposed “media code.”

wha’ does the future hold for news content in f’bok down under? that’s any-1 guess. f’bok has previously said that 1-ly 4% of content onna platform in australia contains links to news. but even if that’s true, usrs will likely get frustrated with their inability to simply share links to news essentialisms t'they find interesting.

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