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Facebook intentionally blocked government pages in Australia

Whistleblower says the company used the tactic for negotiating power ahead of a new law.

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Image: KnowTechie

Facebook whistleblowers are responsible for revealing a lot of the ugly underbelly of the major social platform. Now, a new one has come out accusing Meta (formerly Facebook) of blocking government and health pages on the platform ahead of a new law in Australia.

This new revelation comes via The Wall Street Journal. Sources from the company say the social giant intentionally took down the pages for hospitals, governments, and charities.

It all happened ahead of a new law that was being discussed in the Australian Parliament last year. The law would require Meta and Google to pay publishers for news on their platforms. Facebook wasn’t having any of that and decided to remove all news from Facebook in Australia.

But the problem was the method that the platform used to remove the news actually spread a little farther than just news outlets.

One internal document obtained by WSJ says “If 60 percent or more of a domain’s content shared on Facebook is classified as news, then the entire domain will be considered a news domain.”

As a result, the newly built algorithm to target and take down news pages on Facebook actually spread much further. Government agencies, hospitals, and even charities found themselves in the crosshairs of this broad takedown.

Of course, Facebook says that blocking these extra pages was not intentional. But internal documents and the whistleblower suggest that that may not be entirely true.

“It was clear this was not us complying with the law, but a hit on civic institutions and emergency services in Australia,” said one employee who worked on this particular project.

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Contributing writer with a passion for gaming and tech. Probably getting wrecked by some kids in Rocket League.

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