Blocked: Climate Change Commission caught up in Aussie news ban

What happens when you try to post a link to the Climate Change Commission on Facebook. Photo: Supplied
What happens when you try to post a link to the Climate Change Commission on Facebook. Photo: Supplied
The Climate Change Commission has been misidentified as an Australian news site and has been barred from having any of its content shared on Facebook.

The Commission - which does not have a Facebook page itself - first found out about the situation on Sunday, after users reported they were unable to share links to the government organisation's website.

It comes just after the social media giant resolved its week-long standoff with the Australian government over a proposed new law which would make Facebook pay to host news outlets.

A statement issued by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said they would introduce amendments to the proposed law, which he said "will provide further clarity to digital platforms and news media businesses about the way the Code is intended to operate and strengthen the framework for ensuring news media businesses are fairly remunerated."

"The government has been advised by Facebook that it intends to restore Australian news pages in the coming days."

The ban was only meant to restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.

But somehow, the Climate Change Commission was caught up in it all.

When a user attempts to post onto Facebook a link to the Commission's website, a box pops up which says: "This post can't be shared".

"In response to Australian government legislation, Facebook restricts the posting of news links and all posts from news pages in Australia. Globally, the posting and sharing of news links from Australian publications is restricted."

But the commission's communications manager, Fran Lovell, said it made no sense.

"The Climate Change Commission is a bit confused that Facebook has mis-identified us as an Aussie news site.

"Lots of people have been asking us what the story is and we are not entirely sure - but we can promise we have alerted Facebook to explain where Aotearoa is in relation to Australia.

They have not heard back from Facebook.

It comes at a busy time for the commission, which is in the middle of its engagement period over its Draft Advice, published just over three weeks ago.

They have made the decision to extend the engagement period by two weeks out to the end of March.

"Our consultation is really important and people should head to our website to learn more and make a submission," Lovell said.

Facebook has not responded to either the commission, nor to an RNZ request for comment.

It's not known if other government departments or agencies are also affected; or any other New Zealand-based news organisations.

Comments

After its admiral stand against tyranny the Australian government has now rolled over and submitted to the giant Facebook corporation. Climate change arguments are being parodied to beat the malcontents with. When will politicians realize that the people want it to protect them? The votes are in resisting these juggernauts. The terroristic power wielded by these massive technological corporations must be resisted by National governments. They are out of control. And the people will be heard.

I'm not a Facebook user so none of this is ever likely to affect me but I do find it interesting.
My observation is that Facebook is extremely good at blocking anything that offends it's sensibilities, especially anything that impacts their profit margins. On the moral front an example is that they apparently have the ability to identify a female nipple and will delete the offending photo almost as soon as it is posted, but they seem unable to apply this same level of censorship to hate speech, although from what I read that may improving.
I also find it odd that so many people seem to rely on Facebook pages for their daily intake of news. Apart from the spying that Facebook do they also use their algorithms to direct you to other Facebook pages "that you may like". This strikes me as an insidious form of censorship that I'm not prepared to buy into.

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