Facebook Accused of Deliberately Causing Havoc in Australia Over News Content Law

A new report from The Wall Street Journal on Thursday revealed internal Facebook messages praising teams for seemingly hardball tactics taking down pages of the Australian government, including emergency services and charities. This all reportedly happened as the country was considering a new law that would require companies like Google and Facebook to pay for news posted to their platforms.

The report, which included documents sent to Australian and US authorities by a whistleblower, detailed how Facebook hadn’t followed standard processes for changing its features when it began banning news from its platform in Australia a year ago. Facebook said at the time that it acted to avoid potential lawsuits. But the whistleblower accused the company of attempting to influence Australia’s political process by exerting “maximum negotiating leverage.”

“Despite saying it was targeting only news outlets, the company deployed an algorithm for deciding what pages to take down that it knew was certain to affect more than publishers,” the Journal reported, citing documents and people familiar with the matter. Affected pages reportedly weren’t notified in advance, and there was no system to appeal the takedowns.

A spokeswoman for Meta, which owns Facebook, disagreed with the Journal’s findings, noting that documents from the whistleblower “clearly show that we intended to exempt Australian government Pages from restrictions in an effort to minimize the impact of this misguided and harmful legislation. When we were unable to do so as intended due to a technical error, we apologized and worked to correct it. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically and obviously false.”

The Journal’s report is the latest in a series of disclosures from whistleblowers who have revealed the company’s aggressive and sometimes deceptive business practices. In one case, the Journal reported that Meta’s Instagram social network had been aware of negative impacts on younger users of its app but failed to act. In another, a former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower, accused the company of putting profits ahead of user safety.

Some of the earlier whistleblower documents, which were also shared with CNET and a consortium of other publications, detailed how Facebook is struggling to rein in harassment in its next big technology, virtual reality.

https://www.cnet.com/news/social-media/facebook-accused-of-deliberately-causing-havoc-in-australia-over-news-content-law/

Christin Hakim

Next Post

Thinking of selling your home in current hot NYC real estate market? Here are 10 staging tips, according to experts.

Sat May 7 , 2022
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — As the real estate market in the New York metro area continues to heat up, with a national report at the end of last year predicting that sellers who have owned their home for awhile will likely walk away from a transaction with a healthy amount […]