Suburban mothers groups, vital health services and even national treasures, Jimmy and Jane Barnes were 'wiped' off Facebook, in the wake of its big tech tantrum today.

The drastic move affected an extraordinary number of non-news organisations, including the Bureau of Meteorology, state health departments, welfare services, community organisations, retailers and even satirical websites.

The Cold Chisel frontman and his musical wife also confirmed their collection of heartwarming performances, posted by the couple to entertain and uplift audiences during the pandemic had been deleted.


Jimmy and Janes Barnes sang daily lockdown songs on Twitter during COVID. Picture: Twitter
Jimmy and Janes Barnes sang daily lockdown songs on Twitter during COVID. Picture: Twitter


The 200-plus videos went viral during lockdown, but had disappeared along with charity sites and vital health and safety accounts, risking the community, the federal government warned.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the social media giant's "outrageous" abuse of power would harm Australians' ability access critical medical information.

Mr Hunt said the social media's decision to block pages including Bowel Cancer Australia and Kids Cancer Project was "unacceptable" and can never happen again.

"We expect that Facebook will fix these actions immediately and never repeat them again," he said, adding "this is an assault on a sovereign nation."

"It is an assault on people's freedom and, in particular, it is an utter abuse of big technology's market power and control over technology."

Mr Hunt accused Facebook of putting "profit over people."

"We say to Facebook, 'stop this now and perhaps it is time to put people over profit'."


Facebook has pulled posts from emergency services. Picture: Facebook
Facebook has pulled posts from emergency services. Picture: Facebook


Associate Professor David Holmes, Director of the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University, said it was also "irresponsible" of Facebook to block the Bureau of Meteorology feed "on a day of potentially dangerous floods in Queensland and severe fire danger in Western Australia".

"Over the last decade, Facebook has become the 'new front page' for many Australians and is integral to how breaking news is received. Facebook's actions today, in restricting news content in Australia, is not in the public interest, particularly when it comes to issues of community safety," he said.

"Many rely on Facebook as their primary newsfeed and for community warnings such as those issued by the BOM, many in the community could be put at risk, in the short term."

Dr Tai Neilson from the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University said the news ban "couldn't come at a worse time - in the middle of a health emergency when the public needs timely and accurate information most".


Facebook Australia managing director Will Easton.
Facebook Australia managing director Will Easton.


People who relied on Facebook for information risked missing important warnings, and this could be the "last straw" for many users, he said.

Dr Belinda Barnet from Swinburne University of Technology said Facebook's move showed "they were never serious about fighting misinformation."

"They are prepared to abandon the main source of fact-checked and accurate information on their platform to avoid falling under the news media bargaining code," she said.

Dr Barnet said it was not clear if Facebook's silencing of non-news organisations was a "massive blunder" or "a massive show of power".

Some organisations which were prevented from posting earlier in the day were later able to do so.


Dr Belinda Barnet from Swinburne University of Technology. Picture: YouTube
Dr Belinda Barnet from Swinburne University of Technology. Picture: YouTube


"It could be Facebook took an algorithmic approach to implementing the ban today and had some serious teething problems," Dr Barnet said.

Whether silencing the non-news organisations was intentional or not, Dr Barnet said, it would only erode the trust of users in the platform.

The statement from Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director William Easton about the ban suggested some forethought had gone into the need for essential information to still be carried on the platform.

The Easton statement said "authoritative information" would be provided through dedicated information hubs like the COVID-19 Information Centre, and the company's "commitment to remove harmful misinformation and provide access to credible and timely information will not change".






Fire and Rescue NSW

The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne



Bureau of Meteorology - all states

Department of Fire & Emergency Services - WA

Queensland Health

SA Health

ACT Health

ACT Government

TransLink QLD

Brisbane City Council

Western Sydney Health

SA Government

Tasmanian Government




National Debt Helpline


Sacred Heart Mission

Council to Homeless Persons

Mission Australia

Queensland Council of Social Service

Fragile X Association of Australia

Victorian Council of Social Services

Women's Legal Service NSW

South Australian Abortion Action Coalition

Women With Disabilities Australian Youth Network

Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre

Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne



Monash University

Bond University

Charles Darwin University

University of New England

The University of Newcastle

The Medical Journal of Australia



Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

Christian Media & Arts Australia




Save the Children Australia

Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Opportunity International Australia

The Walkley Foundation

Australian Copyright Council




Beyond satire. The Betoota Advocate was swept up in Facebook’s news ban.
Beyond satire. The Betoota Advocate was swept up in Facebook’s news ban.


The Betoota Advocate

The Onion

The Shovel

The Chaser







Harvey Norman

Virgin Australia



Queensland Rugby League

Women's Rugby League




Originally published as Wiped off Facebook: 'Outrageous' ban upsets Aussies at risk