By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Facebook flexes its muscles, then claims it was all a mistake

Regardless of what really happened, this had the appearance of pure extortion.

In response to Australia’s new law requiring Google and Facebook to hold negotiations with news publishers aimed at compensating publishers for their content, Facebook took down not just news — which would be a proportionate response, I suppose — but all kinds of information.

The newly banned Facebook content comprises, as The Washington Post reports, “dozens of government and charity websites as well, including public health sites containing critical information about the pandemic during the first week of its coronavirus vaccine rollout.”

The information was restored about 12 hours later, and Facebook claimed it was all a mistake. Still, it was a powerful demonstration of what Mark Zuckerberg can do if you refuse to kiss the ring.

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  1. Deborah Nam-Krane

    That was a terrible move on Facebook’s part. I can only hope that government institutions will start migrating their information to a less capricious platform.

    • MagellanNH

      I agree and imo it’s not just governments that need to be wary. I do volunteer work helping small businesses and nonprofits with marketing and often run into folks relying on Facebook as a stand-in for a website. As you say, Facebook can be pretty capricious and it’s not a great idea to put all your eggs in their basket.

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