Observers in the region say Facebook’s news block has the potential to spread misinformation among Pacific communities. PHOTO: KATRINA LINTONBON. 20122109. PHOTO: KATRINA LINTONBON. 20122109
Facebook has blocked the sharing of news content in Australia after its government drafted a law that would force tech giants to pay for content. Now thousands of Australia-based Cook Islanders can no longer see Cook Islands News content on their timelines.
Readers of the national daily Cook Islands
News and other Pacific media outlets have been caught in the crossfire of a
digital battle between the Australian government and tech giant Facebook.
This week, users of the popular social media
platform were blocked from viewing or sharing content from news publishers.
The move was in response to a proposed law
that would force tech companies such as Facebook and Google to pay news
organisations for their content.
Now, Cook Islanders and other members of the
Pacific diaspora in Australia who use the popular social media and content
sharing platform to access and share their news are looking at alternative ways
to stay connected.
“Facebook’s blackout has affected the very
communities that it originally purported to support,” said Caroline Etches, who
lives in Brisbane with her partner and two children.
Currently, users in Australia are prevented
from sharing Cook Islands News articles and receive a notice that reads: “This
post can’t be shared: In response to Australian government legislation,
Facebook restricts the posting of news links and all posts from news Pages in
A Facebook screenshot taken by a user in Australia after attempting to post a CI News article. 21021807
Cook Islands News publisher John Woods
described Facebook’s actions as “appalling”.
“While I sympathise with media outlets who may
feel providers like Facebook are depriving them of revenue by re-presenting
copyrighted news without consent or a payment regime, it is counterproductive
and morally wrong to disallow media outlets to supply their own followers and
subscribers news and information that both parties expressly want.”
While Facebook took a hard line and placed the
restrictions on its users, on the same day Google took a much different route
and announced a three-year agreement with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to pay for
the publisher’s news content.