004 - Facebook, the News and Australia - missing the point?

Oh God, Facebook, what now.

Facebook blocks news links in Australia. They also removed public service pages such as health and welfare around COVID19 and bush fires, Australian charities and even small businesses.

People are lamenting that Facebook shouldn't be able to do this. But the reality is that there shouldn't actually be a Facebook of this size and scope across the world. Governments shouldn't be dependent on Facebook for getting health information to their citizens.

Essentially, the Facebook problem is a failure of governance. Governments should control what happens within their borders, and global tech companies shouldn't be able to circumvent those controls.

The idea that a global advertising company is inserted into social interactions on the web is as absurd as it is abhorrent. Facebook makes money pushing adverts at people who, really, just want to share pictures and stories with their friends and families.

I'm hoping that this is a wake-up call for Governments around the world to not put their data on Facebook, not rely on it to 'reach' their citizens, and monitor it for how it is manipulating those, same, citizens. Facebook is an advertising company masquerading as a social media company. The only way they can get more advertising money is to increase attention of their users; more time, more scrolling, and more people clicking links. Facebook collect data on their 'product' (the users), process it, sell it to advertisers and third parties, and then devise a feed that is designed to try to get those same users to stay on the site. Fake news is fine, as far as they are concerned; it's what is currently (at the time of writing) all that is available on Facebook in Australia.

Facebook are having a stand-off with an entire country. Let that sink in. They hope to win. They mustn't for all our sakes. It doesn't matter if the Australian law is stupid or counter-productive or even just the lobbying of the Murdock media empire. What matters is that a global tech company should never have become so big, and lack appropriate governance and regulation around the world so as to be emboldened to take on a country. It's an utter failure of regulation and they have to be stopped.

We are all Australia.

I'm publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting https://100daystooffload.com

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