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Facebook’s absurd position shows its disdain for Australia

Facebook’s absurd position shows its disdain for Australia
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Facebook’s absurd position shows its disdain for Australia

Facebook’s absurd position shows its disdain for Australia

Here’s the absurd position Facebook is in.

It either had so little regard for Australia’s parliament that it did not properly prepare for being forced to pay for news here, meaning that when a bill was on the cusp of becoming law it blundered so badly attempting to block news sites that weather and suicide prevention pages were taken down too.

Or it in fact was well-prepared but had so little regard for Australia that it thought it would be a good idea to block news pages with such a broad brush that it would inevitably also hit weather and suicide prevention services in an attempt to strong-arm the government into backing down.

Facebook has said it used a broad approach to taking down news content to comply with a vaguely worded law and insisted non-news pages were removed inadvertently.

Facebook has said it used a broad approach to taking down news content to comply with a vaguely worded law and insisted non-news pages were removed inadvertently. Credit:AP

Whistleblowers said last week it was the latter; Facebook insists, more or less, that it was the former.

Either way, Facebook’s most senior leaders, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, thought the way the company had handled things was just peachy.

“We landed exactly where we wanted to — and that was only possible because this team was genius enough to pull it off in zero time,” said Facebook’s head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown in a leaked missive that was so tone-deaf it could only have been sent internally.

Zuckerberg reckoned Facebook, now under parent company Meta, had achieved the best possible outcome in Australia, though the context of the emails is not entirely clear. “The thoughtfulness of the strategy, precision of execution, and ability to stay nimble as things evolved sets a new high-standard,” Sandberg said.

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Jarring, sure, but of no consequence beyond lowering Facebook’s already subterranean reputation.

Except that Facebook has bafflingly refused to strike deals under the law it fought so hard against, the News Media Bargaining Code, with two publishers: public broadcaster SBS and academic outlet The Conversation.

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