Companies, not-for-profits caught up in Facebook’s bid to block news

Turns out everyone was focused on the wrong tech giant. After weeks of discussion about whether Google would make good on threats to pull out of Australia over the planned News Media Bargaining Code, it’s Facebook that has caused the biggest disruption.

The NMBC passed the House of Representatives last night, more than 18 months after the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry report was handed down.

Passage of the bill came after Google struck last-minute deals with [Seven] and [News Corp] which has them set to avoid being covered by the legislation.

Facebook, however, has [carried through on its threat to remove Australian news content] from its service rather than submit to the new laws.

But its Facebook’s definition of ‘news sites’ that is making the most news this morning.

Government health pages, sexual assault charities, unions, law firms, the Bureau of Metereology and satirical news sites have all been caught up in the ban, having their Facebook pages disappear with no notice. Even Facebook’s own Facebook page is being blocked.

A number of Streem clients have been among those who have seen their Facebook pages disappear.

How Facebook decided who to block

While the full details aren’t public, in [a statement online] Facebook said “we are using a combination of technologies to restrict news content and we will have processes to review any content that was inadvertently removed”.

From this page, however, it appears like pages who post a significant proportion of news content are those that have been blocked.

“If a Page is connected to a news domain, or if we identify a significant proportion of a Page’s posts, shared links and/or shared videos as news, the Page will be restricted from posting new content.”

How to appeal the decision to block your page

To appeal the decision to take down your page, Facebook advises “clicking directly on the notification on (the) Page which will bring them to the help Centre & appeal form”.

For those whose pages are working, is there any way to post news?

For those looking to maintain a communication channel with audiences in the interim, The Guardian’s Nick Evershed had a novel solution: you can still post Tweets to Facebook that themselves link through to news articles.

Is Streem affected in any way?

You can be confident that Streem’s licence to news media content, as well its licensing arrangements with Facebook, will remain unaffected.

However, we expect less social content in the platform in coming days as news publishers are restricted from posting.

This may impact clients who have regular reports monitoring Facebook content, with content levels likely to fall.

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