Facebook apologises for banning charity and health pages

On Thursday morning Australia’s awoke to discover that tech-giant Facebook had banned all Australian news sources from its platform. Now the social media company says it’s sorry for it’s over-zealous approach.

The dramatic move was a salvo in the companies war with the Morrison government over proposals that online social media and search engine behemoths should contribute to the support of traditional media outlets that their platforms have disrupted over the last decade.

Facebook’s response was wiping all the posts from news media outlets, and preventing anyone from sharing links to their webpages. The move also saw Facebook removing access to government services including the Bureau of Meterology and Fire and Emergency Services, suicide prevention groups, health prevention organisations and charities. Also caught up in the mass banning were theatre companies and many community groups.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan’s Facebook page was not affected, but his opponent in the upcoming election Zak Kirkup wasn’t as lucky. The Premier wasn’t impressed with the intervention in the state election and described the social media company as behaving like a “North Korean Dictator”.

“They’re behaving more like North Korea than an American company. I would urge the American Government to assist us here in resolving this matter.

“What they’re doing is anti-democratic and that’s why the United States Government should assist us here.” the Premier said.

“They shouldn’t condone a company behaving like a North Korean dictator.

“It’s outside the spirit of the relationship between Australia and the United States.”

While Liberal leader Zak Kirkup, and some emergency services pages, were restored within a few hours, many groups have still be barred from the platforms.

Simon Milner, Facebook’s Vice President of Public Policy for the Asia-Pacific region has apologised for banning pages which had nothing to do with news reporting.

“This is a really hard thing to do. We’ve never done it before. We are sorry for the mistakes we made in some of the implementation,” Milner told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Milner said the laws being proposed by the Morrison government made it very hard to judge which organisations would be classed a media.

“There’s still some pages that we’re looking at but some of it’s really difficult in that the law isn’t clear and therefore there may be some pages that were clearly not news but actually under the law they might be,” Milner said. “That’s one of the challenges for us. We’re sorry for the mistakes that we made on that front.”

However on Saturday, two days after Facebook implemented their ban the pages of many organisations remained inaccessible, these include the WA AIDS Council and Sexual Health Quarters.

OIP Staff

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