How the Facebook news ban affects you

Facebook has banned news in Australia but it's not so clear cut

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Facebook has flicked the switch on news for Australians. Picture: Shutterstock

Facebook has flicked the switch on news for Australians. Picture: Shutterstock

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Facebook has pulled the plug on news sharing in Australia but other services are getting caught up in the storm.

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In the early hours of Thursday morning for most Australians, Facebook pressed the big red button.

As it had previously warned, the social media giant delivered on its threats and banned Australian users and media outlets from publishing, sharing or viewing news links on the site.

It's a big change many hoped would not happen but now it's a reality, let's dive in.

Why can't I see news posts on Facebook?

Starting with the obvious, news posts are no longer visible in Australia because Facebook has hit the nuclear switch.

On Thursday, Facebook Australia's managing director William Easton said the social media site had been left with no choice but to pull the plug after the government's media bargaining code passed Parliament.

Mr Easton said Facebook had hoped the government would work toward collaboration rather than forcing the social media site to fork out dollars to media outlets for hosting their links.

"Unfortunately this legislation does not do that. Instead it seeks to penalise Facebook for content it didn't take or ask for," Mr Easton wrote.

"While the government has made some changes, the proposed law fundamentally fails to understand how our services work.

"This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid."

For regular users, the changes mean Australians cannot view or share Australian or international news content on Facebook as well as content from Australian and international news Pages.

For the media outlets, it means posts have been removed, for now at least, and there are restrictions on sharing any further links on the page.

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What else is being affected?

While the ban was only intended to affect news media outlets, it seems a number of government agencies have been caught as collateral.

There have been reports that the Facebook posts for Bureau of Meteorology, ACT Health and Victoria Police have all been removed.

The posts of other crucial services, such as Fire and Rescue NSW, 1800 Respect and a number of unions, are also not appearing for some users.

At this stage, it's unclear if Facebook intended to take down these pages as well. The Canberra Times has contacted Facebook for clarification.

Where to from here?

It's an interesting move by Facebook, who has been publicly championing journalism and news initiatives for the past few years.

The timing is also interesting given the social media site has said it's dedicated to stamping out rampant misinformation shared. Without countering false claims with factual reporting, it's unclear how the site intends to do this.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had a "constructive discussion" with Facebook chief executive Marc Zuckerberg on Thursday morning and was working on a path forward.

What that might look like, like everything else in this saga, is anyone's guess right now.

The story How the Facebook news ban affects you first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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