The Wall Street Journal reported that charitable, emergency services and hospital pages were affected last year by Facebook, intentionally using a broad algorithm to block news in Australia.
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Facebook used an algorithm it knew would affect pages other than publisher pages in Australia ahead of a pending bill that would force the platform to pay news outlets for content. reported by the Wall Street Journal.
As a result, a page was taken down for the Australian government and health services as the Australian government began implementing its COVID-19 vaccination program, the journal reported.
The journal reported that the social media mogul had not informed the page in advance and that the takedown started before the appeal process was ready. This is a departure from the normal procedure.
Whistleblowers have submitted documents and testimony to US and Australian authorities alleging that Facebook wants maximum pressure on Australian lawmakers to vote on the bill.
Facebook told the WSJ that the move was not a negotiating tactic and used an extensive algorithm because the law did not specify what was considered news.
Facebook spokeswoman Andy Stone said in a statement: “The documents in question clearly show our intention to exempt the Australian Government page from restrictions in order to minimize the impact of this misguided and harmful legislation.” “When technical errors prevented us from doing what we intended, we apologized and tried to rectify it. Any suggestion to the contrary is downright blatantly false.”
The report details Facebook’s actions ahead of new legislation that would force digital platforms like Facebook and Google to pay for news to display that content in news feeds or search results.
Both Facebook and Google opposed the law. Threats to remove some services or features in AustraliaBut ultimately, commercial or government contracts were reached.
Read the full report Wall Street Journal.