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Emergency Facebook pages returning after ‘inadvertent’ bans

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Some Facebook pages belonging to Australian government organisations, including emergency services and weather forecasters, have started to reappear on Facebook after earlier being blocked.

Some Facebook pages belonging to Australian government organisations, including emergency services and weather forecasters, have started to reappear on Facebook after earlier being blocked.

Key organisations including Fire and Rescue NSW, Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA, SA Health and Queensland Health all had their pages wiped this morning after the social media giant slapped a ban on Australian users and publishers from sharing or viewing news content.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology, DFES WA and SA Health's pages reappeared around lunchtime after Facebook pledged to reverse the ban on "inadvertently impacted" pages.

READ MORE: Facebook bans Australian news content

Government news sites are being affected by the Facebook news ban.Government news sites are being affected by the Facebook news ban.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the timing of Facebook's ban came as the social giant saw the passage of the proposed code through the House of Representatives yesterday - but the government had no warning.

The bill is yet to go through the Senate. 

"Facebook is in no doubt that we're committed to the code, but also we would like to see them here in Australia," Mr Frydenberg said.  

"But I think their actions today were unnecessary and wrong." 

The Treasurer spoke to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today about "differing interpretations" of the proposed media code. 

"I spoke to him over the weekend, but I also spoke to him this morning," he said.

"We had a pretty lengthy conversation, around half an hour, and it was constructive," Mr Frydenberg said.  

"I think there's some differing interpretations as to how the code would work. And we talked through some of those elements."

Josh Frydenberg and Paul Fletcher during a press conference on Facebook's news ban.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Facebook's decision to ban Australian news will hurt their brand. 

READ:  Ordinary Council Meeting Tuesday 22 September 2020

He has urged Facebook to reverse the ban on the other organisations.

READ MORE: Global implications of Facebook's news ban

Earlier, SA Health said on Twitter: "It appears SA Health has been caught up in the Facebook restrictions that came into place overnight for Australian news outlets.

"Our website remains active. You can follow our Instagram and Twitter for your health news.

"SA Health has contacted Facebook to rectify this issue."

https://twitter.com/SAHealth/status/1362163451565514754?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The Bureau of Meteorology earlier said: "The Bureau of Meteorology's Facebook page has been impacted by the broader Facebook changes."

Homeless charity Mission Australia and charities which are part of the Victorian Council of Social Services said they also had pages wiped alongside some domestic violence services.

The Medical Journal of Australia also said on Twitter its Facebook page had been "blocked".

The Australian Council of Trade Unions also said it has been blocked in a Tweet, while the page of satirical news site The Betoota Advocate was also removed.

Hobart Women's shelter page also appears to have been wiped alongside Women's Legal Service NSW.

EXPLAINED: Facebook has banned Australia's access to news, here's what it means for you

BOM Facebook page down

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called on the government to "fix this today".

"During a global pandemic, Australians can't access state health departments on Facebook," he said.

"On a day of flood and fire warnings in Queensland and WA, Australians can't access the Bureau of Meteorology on Facebook."

https://twitter.com/AlboMP/status/1362177819304812544?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Human Rights Watch Australia, which usually campaigns on issues such as the treatment of refugees and security laws, called for Facebook to lift the "alarming" bans on non-news pages.

READ:  How Not To Be A Dick During The Coronavirus Outbreak

"Cutting off access to vital information to an entire country in the dead of the night is unconscionable," the organisation said.

The Victorian Council of Social Services also said many of its charity member's pages had been affected.

In a sign of the chaos, UK football teams including Rangers, Celtic, Manchester United and Chelsea's pages can no longer be seen.

Posts on the pages of some community sporting clubs have also gone.

However, Facebook said it will "reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted."

"The actions we're taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content," it said.

READ MORE: WA Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup's Facebook page blocked ahead of election

"As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted," it said in a statement.

DFES said they have been told by Facebook it "will restore the page as a priority".

Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien and WA Opposition Leader MP Zak Kirkup's pages have been taken down.

Retailer Harvey Norman's page has also been wiped - alongside Facebook's own Facebook page.

The social media giant will prohibit publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content in response to Australia's proposed media bargaining laws — a move Nine says will inhibit news creators from sharing quality news and information.

Facebook said it was left with a "stark choice" after being unable to find a "solution" in discussions with the Australian government.

READ:  Black Lives Matter Supporter Who Carried Injured Man To Safety Hailed As 'National Hero'

"The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content," William Easton, Facebook's Australia and New Zealand managing director, said in a blog post.

"It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter."

Nine, which is the publisher of this site, said it was "unreasonable behaviour".

International news Facebook pages such as the New York Times, also can't be accessed in Australia.

Facebook to ban Australian news content

Non-news organisations caught up in Facebook news ban

Bureau of Meteorology

NSW Fire and Rescue

Department of Fire and Emergency Services, WA

Government Health pages for Queensland, ACT, South Australia, Western Sydney

Australian Trade Unions

Victorian Council of Social Services

Homeless charities including Mission Australia, Sacred Heart Mission in Melbourne, Council to Homeless Persons

Domestic violence help including 1800 Respect, Womens' Legal Service NSW

Victoria Opposition leader Michael O'Brien

WA Opposition Leader MP Zak Kirkup

NSW Police Legacy

UK football teams including Manchester United, Celtic and Chelsea

Bowel Cancer Australia

Harvey Norman

Brisbane City Council

Translink Queensland

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/facebook-news-ban-australia-government-organisations-affected/344717a1-a7a7-4bd9-b3b1-0c89440aa266

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