Facebook is facing a boycott campaign over its controversial move Prohibit users from accessing news in Australia amid a wage dispute with publishers.
Early Thursday, “Delete Facebook,” “Boycott Zuckerberg,” and “Facebook We Need To Talk” began trending on other social networks as anger over the move spread around the world.
“If it is not already clear, Facebook is not compatible with democracy,” wrote US representative David Cicilline (D-RI) on Twitter. “The threat to bring an entire country to its knees to agree to Facebook’s terms is the ultimate admission of monopoly power.”
Facebook’s hardball train arrived on Wednesday in response to Australia’s proposed new law on media negotiationsThis would require tech giants to share advertising revenue from news with the publishers who produce them. Facebook’s abrupt news ban took industry insiders by surprise as it came just hours after Google announced a revenue sharing agreement with News Corp..
British MP Julian Knight said Facebook appeared to have used Australia as a “test case” for democracies’ response to the news ban, and urged lawmakers around the world to “get the tech giant up to speed.”
Stephen Scheeler, former CEO of Facebook Australia, was there early Thursday urged users to delete Facebookwhen he suggested CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the “alarming” move.
“I’m a proud ex-Facebooker, but over the years I get more and more angry. For Facebook and Mark, it’s too much about money and power and not about good,” said Scheeler. “Imagine, if a Chinese company had done this, for example, we would be in the arms. All Australians should be pretty worried about this. “
Facebook said it decided to ban news content rather than complying with a new law due to be passed in Australia in the coming days that will force it to pay news organizations to host their stories.
Critics blasted the decision, saying it would lead to the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation that Facebook is allegedly targeting.
But Facebook already has botched the ban the first day British news sites sharing names with Australian newspapers, health services providing COVID information, charities, food banks and even Facebook’s own homepage were cleaned on Thursday.
Instead of seeing posts from the social media giant, users in Australia who clicked on their own Facebook page were greeted with a “No posts yet” message.
Facebook blamed the Australian government for the mistakes, saying it reflected the “broad and vague” definition of “news” in its new law.
Facebook’s missteps included removing the pages of the UK Daily Telegraph, which shares a name with Australia’s Daily Telegraph although it is a separate company, and Sky News UK, which is also separate from its Australian counterpart.
Four regional Australian health authorities responsible for disseminating information about the COVID-19 pandemic have also been removed by the ban. Critics said this would endanger life.
The Immunization Foundation of Australia, which helps vaccinate babies against potentially fatal diseases, fell victim to the hasty ban, as did fire and rescue services, which were used to warn of bush fires.
There were also concerns that removing the sites could hurt Australia’s COVID vaccination drive, which begins in three days.
“Facebook always said it was a platform. It looks very much like it is now making some pretty important editorial and even political decisions, ”said Knight, who called for“ tough legislative action ”against the tech giant. “Especially during a pandemic, it is arrogant to turn off the taps for a lot of news. It is not a good citizen of the world. “
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the move shows that big tech companies “think they are bigger than governments and that the rules shouldn’t apply to them”.
“They may change the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it,” he added.
Matt Stoller of the American Economic Liberties Project echoed Morrison’s concern and tweeted, “Facebook has deleted large amounts of critical content on a critical piece of social infrastructure to threaten the sovereignty of a democratic society. The details are complex, the underlying power play is simple. “