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February 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Facebook has banned Australians from accessing or sharing any news on its platform, as well as preventing users worldwide from accessing Australian news. The move by the social media giant is due to a dispute over proposed new laws.
On February 17, Facebook blocked Australians from either seeing or sharing news on the platform, and additionally blocked users around the world from seeing Australian-based news outlet’s posts. The ban was so widespread that it even affected a number of official government pages, charity pages, the opposition leader for Western Australia, as well as pages for various state departments of health.
Facebook even blocked its own page in the country, in a move which was described as highlighting the irony of the situation.
The latest development in the ongoing dispute between the Australian authorities and Facebook is an act of retaliation in view of a bill introduced last year which would regulate the money social media companies can make. Under the terms of the code, Facebook and Google would have to draw up contracts and pay Australian news media sites which use the platforms.
The tech companies would be forced to share some of the profits they make from advertising those news sites, and if the tech giants were found to be in breach of the code, they could be fined up to AU$10 million (almost US$8 million).
Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenburg, from whose department the bill originated, previously wrote in The Australian that it was “only fair that the search engines and social media giants pay for the original news content that they use to drive traffic to their sites.”
Frydenburg stated that for “every $100 spent by advertisers in Australia on online advertising, excluding classifieds, $47 goes to Google, $24 to Facebook and $29 to other participants.”
The proposed bill was approved at its third reading by the Australian House of Representatives on February 17, and has now to pass through the Senate, where it is expected to be approved.
Responding to Facebook’s move, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement, saying that Facebook had moved “to unfriend Australia today,” accusing the company of “cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services,” in actions that “were as arrogant as they were disappointing.”
In a press conference the day after the Facebook news bans, Frydenburg dubbed the Big Tech company’s move as “wrong … unnecessary … heavy-handed,” adding that it was “completely unrelated to the media code, which is yet to pass through the Senate.”
However, Facebook’s director for Australia and New Zealand William Easton attacked the proposed bill, saying it “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.” Easton claimed that Facebook was being forced to comply with the law, or cease allowing news on the social media site: “With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”
Some of the Facebook pages originally banned, relating to official government accounts and charities, have since been restored, and Frydenburg stated he had a “constructive” conversation Thursday morning with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Frydenburg also revealed that Zuckerberg had given the treasurer no indication of Facebook’s possible move to ban pages when they had last spoken a few days earlier.
However, Facebook’s ban on news sites has caused outrage across the world, and the number of calls to abandon the site has rapidly grown. Western Australia’s premier Mark McGowan said that Facebook was “behaving like a North Korean dictator.”
Meanwhile, the Australia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared, “It’s not only news sites, but health department pages that share essential COVID-19 updates, emergency services and small Indigenous community pages are affected. This is an alarming and dangerous turn of events. Cutting off access to vital information to an entire country in the dead of the night is unconscionable. Mark Zuckerberg has publicly stated that he doesn’t think it’s right for a private company to censor the news and Human Rights Watch agrees.”
A New York Post op-ed stated, “The extent of Facebook’s power allows it to threaten a country’s government by holding hostage massive amounts of its social infrastructure. What we are witnessing is hardly a contractual dispute, but a power struggle between a sovereign self-government and a private corporation so dominant it exists as a hegemon in its own right.”
PETITION UPDATE (2/23/21) -
LifeSite has signed on to a Media Research Center (MRC) letter to all 50 state Attorneys General, calling for an investigation into Big Tech.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter have monopolized the industry, and are using their influence to collect user data, suppress content, and silence those who voice ideas and beliefs counter to their own.
As we urged prior, action must be taken to combat these efforts, and that is why we’ve joined the MRC in this fight.
Please take a couple of minutes to READ this LifeSiteNews article about MRC's initiative: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/lifesite-joins-effort-asking-state-attorneys-general-to-investigate-big-tech-for-deceptive-trade-practices
Then, please SIGN and STOP using Twitter, Facebook, Google (YouTube) and Amazon to take back your privacy and freedom of speech!
PETITION UPDATE (2/9/21) -
YouTube just completely removed the LifeSiteNews YouTube channel. This isn’t a ban, every single one of our videos is completely gone. Being completely removed from YouTube means we’ve lost access to 300,000+ followers.
This is the latest and appalling affront to free speech which is happening to many conservative and Christian organizations.
Please SIGN this petition and STOP using YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google (owner of YouTube) and Amazon to take back your privacy and freedom of speech!
We are not going to take this lying down!
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PETITION UPDATE (1/26/20) -
Twitter has again locked LifeSiteNews out of two of our accounts on the platform for displaying a message noting that President Joe Biden’s newly named Assistant Secretary of Health “Rachel” Levine is a man.
Both accounts displayed a simple message which read: “Biden names transgender ‘woman’ as Assistant Secretary of Health. ‘Rachel’ Levine is a father of two who divorced his wife in 2013 after 30 years of marriage.” The tweets also included a link to LifeSite’s article Biden names transgender ‘woman’ as Assistant Secretary of Health, and contained part of the opening sentence of that article, “Joe Biden has announced his intention to appoint a gender-confused man” as Assistant Secretary of Health.
For stating biological or Biblical truths, Twitter and Big Tech are trying to shut down conservative voices.
Therefore, it is now more important than ever to consider dumping Twitter, Google (who own YouTube) and Facebook. To be clear: LifeSite is still using Twitter and Big Tech to encourage others to migrate away from these illiberal platforms.
This is not the first time that LifeSiteNews has been censored by Twitter. In December 2019, Twitter indefinitely suspended our account for a tweet that linked to an article on transgender activist Jonathan “Jessica” Yaniv.
At the time, Twitter gave LifeSite the option to delete the tweet and reactivate our account right away. LifeSite remained steadfast that the tweet did not violate any of the company’s “rules and policies,” and sought several appeals with Twitter, while looking into legal action against the company.
And, while LifeSite's account was eventually restored, we must now consider what course of action we will pursue in this case, over and above appealing the ban.
Meanwhile, since taking office on Wednesday last week, Joe Biden has already signed an executive order which will force women’s athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to be open to men. He has also turned back the Trump administration’s policy protecting women’s sports programs in schools.
Last week, LifeSite was banned for two weeks from our YouTube channel, after the site determined that one of our videos about vaccines violated YouTube’s “community guidelines.” We are also in the middle of appealing this ban.
Please considering SIGNING and SHARING this petition. Thank you!
Twitter just deplatformed President Trump premanently! And, other conservatives, including General Flynn and Sidney Powell, were also summarily deplatformed.
Conservatives, Christians and freedom-loving Americans of all political persuasions must now take a decision to preserve their free speech AND their ability to peaceably assemble by dumping Twitter and Big Tech, and by finding other good alternatives to communicate with each other and share their opinions.
Please SIGN our petition-pledge to Dump Twitter and Big Tech, and take back your freedom of speech and privacy. [CLICK HERE for our "Goodbye Google" resources page to find good alternatives to Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google!]
When you use Twitter or Facebook to communicate, and, or, Google and Amazon to search for something online, these companies can stifle your ability to share your thoughts and opinions and manipulate your search results, threatening your privacy, your freedom of speech, and even our democracy.
Evidence suggests that Twitter and Facebook's 'community guidelines' are selectively enforced against conservatives and Christians, while Google rigs their search algorithms to direct traffic away from conservative and Christian websites, effectively choking traffic to those sites.
Simply put, Twitter, Facebook, Google (who owns YouTube) and Amazon appear to be actively suppressing access to pro-freedom, pro-family and pro-life news and opinion.
Don't contribute to this assault on democracy: Stop using Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon as your default social media platforms and search engine! [CLICK HERE to find a good alternative to Google.]
To repeat: a few liberal and completely unaccountable computer programmers in Silicon Valley are dictating what we do and do not see in our Twitter and Facebook feeds, and in our Google searches.
We, here, at LifeSite, also recently had our Twitter account suspended by the company over "misgendering" a man who claims to be a woman.
LifeSite has also experienced a fall-off in Google search-related traffic since the company updated its search algorithms at the beginning of May.
And, since the November election, Twitter and Big Tech appear to have dramatically INCREASED their censorship of conservatives and Christians as the President Trump disputed the results of the election and when evidence of election fraud began to mount.
Now, it seems likely that they are trying to cut-off conservative leaders (like President Trump) from conservatives on the ground, and effectively exclude us from the national conversation.
But, this tactic will not work. Because Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon are not the only game in town! There are a good number of excellent alternatives which we list in our 'Goodbye Google' Resources page.
The great irony is that, while Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon executives talk a lot about maintaining freedom of speech and diversity, in fact, these hypocrites are ATTACKING free speech point-blank!
This kind of manipulation poses a lethal threat to our democracy, but as we see so clearly now, Twitter and Big Tech have shown no hesitation in excluding conservatives and Christians from the public square.
So, at this point, the only way to stop Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon is to quit using their platform.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition to pledge to stop using Twitter and Big Tech. Then, please CLICK HERE to find alternative search engines and social media platforms. Thank you!
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'BREAKING: Twitter permanently bans President Trump from platform' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-twitter-permanently-bans-president-trump-from-platform
WATCH LifeSite's exclusive series - 'Big Tech vs Free Speech' - of interviews with experts on how Big Tech censorship is killing free speech: https://www.lifesitenews.com/bigtech/
From YouTube to social media and beyond, online censorship is rampant. Read the latest articles covering this ongoing struggle: https://lifefacts.lifesitenews.com/goodbye-google/censorship/
The recent event highlights the sharp contrast between this latest act of censorship and how the unprecedented banning of former President Donald Trump from social media was received.
Just hours after the January 6 protests at the Capitol building, Facebook and Instagram removed the sitting president from the social media platforms “indefinitely,” blaming Trump for inciting violence that day.
A day later, Twitter banned Trump also, having previously suspended his account and deleted a number of the president’s tweets, alleging that he was inciting protests and violence. The increasing censorship leveled against Trump and numerous other conservative and pro-life voices since the November 2020 election has served to draw attention to the unique power which tech companies wield, almost without limits.
Yet despite the de-platforming of the president of the United States, the main-stream media coverage at the time hailed the decision, in contrast to the current reporting on the situation in Australia. In fact, at the time, Deborah Brown, a researcher for HRW, applauded the social media ban, saying: “I do agree with the decision.”
Facebook’s move in Australia also clearly demonstrates the amount of power which the social media company wields, as well as the manner in which society has become reliant upon it to such a large extent.
At the same time, some countries are taking measures to fight back against the tech giants, with Poland and Hungary unveiling plans to regain freedom of speech on the internet. Commenting on her country’s plans, Hungary’s Justice Minister Judit Varga stated: “Tech companies thus violate all those fundamental democratic legal norms that form the basis of Western-type culture.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also recently revealed an extensive legislative plan, in an attempt to curtail the power of Big Tech, pointing to the “increasing decisive role” that the platforms play in elections, and stating that the plan would help Americans who have been “negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the Big Tech Cartel.”
Newsmax’s White House Correspondent Emerald Robinson tweeted about how Big Tech had moved from canceling Trump, to an entire country: “Big Tech monopolies now threaten the autonomy of nation states.”