The report says that Facebook is causing chaos to put pressure on Australian lawmakers
May 10, 2022: The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is using an algorithm that can affect pages beyond those of publishers in Australia ahead of pending legislation that would make digital platforms pay news outlets for their content.
As a result, pages for the Australian government and health services were removed as the country started rolling out its Covid vaccination program, the Journal reported.
The Journal reported the social media giant did not notify the affected pages in advance. The report said that the takedown was launched before an appeals process was ready, a break from the typical procedure.
Whistleblowers filed documents and testimony to U.S. and Australian authorities alleging Facebook wanted to put maximum pressure on Australian lawmakers voting on the law.
Facebook told the WSJ that the moves were not a negotiating tactic and that it used a broad algorithm because the law didn’t specify what was considered news.
“The documents in question clearly show that we intended to exempt Australian government Pages from restrictions to make less the impact of this misguided and harmful legislation,” a Meta spokesperson said when contacted by CNBC. “When we were unable to do so as intended due to a technical error, we are sorry and worked to correct it. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically and false.”
The report details actions Facebook took ahead of new legislation that would make digital platforms such as Facebook and Google pay for news to display that content on news feeds or in search results.
Both Facebook and Google opposed the law and threatened to remove some services or features from Australia but finally reached commercial or government agreements.
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