Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry.
Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry.

Facebook ban another kick in guts for regional communities

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry has labelled Facebook’s ban of news content a kick in the guts for regional media outlets and for rural communities who rely on the platform for information.

Ms Landry said the government would not be intimidated by the actions of a private company.

“We are committed to enacting the news media bargaining code, which is now in the Senate after passing the House of Representatives last night,” she said.

“As we have said all along, we expect companies who do business in Australia to comply with our laws.

“As the Communications Minister has said, if Facebook were to operate in a mode where effectively all content from a news organisation - with a fact checking process, with employed journalists and with editorial policies is not available on Facebook - then surely over time that would call into question the reliability of information on the platform.

“It’s important Australia has a diverse and well-resourced news media sector which is a critical part of our democracy and vitally important to the Australian people.

“We are also encouraged by further deals between Google and news organisations, with News Corp now joining Seven West Media and Nine in signing letters of intent with Google.”

Ms Landry said the Federal Government was proceeding with its world-leading mandatory code which addressed the significant bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and digital platforms. 

“We are putting the tools in place to address the bargaining power imbalance and provide an opportunity to news media businesses to be fairly remunerated for the content they generate and from which digital platforms benefit,” Ms Landry said.

Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke has also slammed Facebook over the tactics.

“This is not on,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“Facebook hasn’t just blocked news sites from posting, it has also shut down crucial pages like Queensland Health and the Bureau of Meteorology as well.

“What a disgrace. The Queensland Health page has played a critical role in distributing important information on COVID over the past 12 months and BOM is a vital service in our community, especially during cyclone season.

“Facebook - you need to fix this today.”