Whistleblowers accuse Facebook of deliberately blocking Australian government, health and emergency services pages to thwart a potential law requiring platforms to pay for news. to WSJ. Prosecutors say last year the platform created an algorithm to identify the pages that would affect the most publishers. But Facebook reportedly not only removed media pages – it also removed pages for hospitals, governments and charities.
According to documents, Facebook has assembled a team of about a dozen employees who have been tasked with removing news content from Australia. The team bypassed an existing Facebook database with existing news publishers. Instead, Facebook employees quickly developed a new algorithm with a broad enough definition of news to cover a large number of non-news pages. “If 60 percent of [sic] more than the content of the domain shared on Facebook is classified as news, then the entire domain will be considered a news domain, “said an internal document.
The end result was that for several days, Australians could not access or share news or information from governments and health services Facebook pages. The timing was particularly bad as the nation was on track to launch a mass vaccination campaign against Covid-19. A number of Australian health officials have condemned the move. Е It is truly ironic that Facebook allowed the dissemination of misinformation about health through its platform during this pandemic, but today much of this misinformation remains on Facebook while official sources of information are blocked [The decision is] corporate harassment at its worst “, the President of the Australian Medical Association Dr. Omar Horshid NBC last year.
Facebook’s problems in Australia began when the national parliament began devising ways to force companies to pay publishers for news content distributed through search engines and social media platforms. As early as February 2021, the Australian House of Representatives passed a version of this legislation that Facebook opposed. Then the company Australians to share or view news on the platform as a whole. After days of public protest, the Australian parliament finally negotiated with Facebook and accepted who had the support of the social media giant. Facebook then the ban.
Facebook claims that the blocking of government and healthcare pages was accidental. “The documents in question clearly show that we intend to release the Australian government’s pages from restrictions in an attempt to minimize the impact of this wrong and harmful legislation,” said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone. WSJ. “When we failed to do it as intended due to a technical error, we apologized and worked to correct it. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically and obviously untrue. “
The documents submitted by the whistleblowers were submitted to the US Department of Justice and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, WSJ reported. Copies of Facebook documents were also provided to a number of members of the US Congress.
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