Headline, February 22 2021/ ''' '' HISTORIC FACEBOOK HIGHNESS '' '''


 HIGHNESS '' '''

SYDNEY - AUSTRALIA : A DIGITALLY SAVVY NATION woke up on Thursday to a shock on Facebook : The news was gone. The social media giant had decided to block journalism in Australia, rather than pay the companies that produce it under.

Under legislation now before Parliament, angering a country of arguers who had grown used to Facebook as a regular forum for politics or culture.

And then Australians discovered it wasn't just those staples that were missing. Pages for state health departments and emergency services were also wiped clean.

The Bureau of Meteorology, providing weather data in the middle of fire season - blank. An opposition candidate running for office in Western Australia, just a few weeks from an election - every message gone.

Even pages for nonprofit organizations providing information to victims of domestic violence fell into the Facebook dragnet, along with those for organizations that work with the poor and vulnerable.

''it's quite scary when you see it happen,'' said Elaine Person, the Australia director at Human Rights Watch, which lost its own Facebook posts with indepth reports on deaths in Australian police custody, on the coup in Myanmar and on many other topics.

More frightening was what remained : pages dedicated to aliens and U.F.O.s one for community group called Say NO to Vaccines; and plenty of conspiracy theories, some falsely linking 5G to infertility, others spreading lies about Bill Gates and the end of the world.

Australians could hardly believe what they were seeing. For most of the day, millions of them seemed to be wandering around Facebook, dazed as if after a flood, looking to see what had been washed away and what was still there.

Facebook initially blamed the proposed law [which was expected to pass within days] for the disappearances, including what it called the legislation's too-broad definition of news.

Later in the day, Facebook promised to revive vital public service pages, which seemed to rollback online gradually.

Ms. Pearson on Human Rights Watch said she would be talking to Facebook in the coming days about what looked to her like a decision designed to 'prove a point,' with either lack of competence or little concern for the human impact.

''Shutting down pages for Firefighters, hospitals, state health departments - it all felt irresponsible, if not cruel.

''It's really worrying,'' she said, ''when you see the huge amount of power wielded by a private company.''

But by that point, many Australians were already dividing into opinionated groups.

MAYBE IT'S FOR THE BEST : Facebook's broad approach to blocking news has effectively shaped Australia in the face.

John Lindberg, a professor of media, film and journalism ay Monash University in Melbourne, said its ''incredibly heavy-handed strategy'' would backfire because the public and politicians were now united in disgust.

''You can see Frydenberg and Mosrrison smirking,'' he said, referring to the treasurer and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who released a statement - on Facebook - condemning its ''actions to unfriend Australia.''

''They know they're on to a winner,'' Mr. Lindberg continued. ''There's little love lost for Facebook among the public., especially after it's ramped up its bully tactics.''

One possible result is that Faceboiok users look elsewhere. Crikey, an independent news outlet, has been encouraging that with a simple message : ''Don't get Zuckered. Get news straight from the source.''

Some small publishers will find that difficult. Johnathan Howard, the owner of the Tweed Valley Weekly, a small regional newspaper north of Sydney, said he and his partner had been thinking for a while that focusing on Facebook was not good for their publication or their community.

''The conversation there, it's not a calculated or thought out process,'' he said. ''It's more like 'whingebook' - what do we whinge about today and who hates who.''

Cutting back, he added, could be good for everyone. ''I felt liberated stepping away,'' he said.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on State-of-the-World, Social Media and Future, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Damien Cave, and Livia Albeeck -Ripka.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Australia and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

''' Purge - Pride '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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