Facebook Surprises Australians With News Blackout – Australians were caught off guard by Facebook Inc.’s FB -1.53% decision to remove news from its platform in a deepening spat with the government over payment for content.
Facebook overnight had followed through on a threat to bar users in Australia from posting news. The move also cut off access to information such as the national weather service and some local health sites, though Facebook said that had been done inadvertently.
The U.S. company opposes legislation by the Australian government that would effectively require big tech companies to pay the country’s media outlets for content. The legislation, which is being watched globally and could offer a model for other governments to follow, is working its way through the country’s parliament.
Marcey Papandrea is collateral damage in the dispute. Ms. Papandrea has spent more than 10 years cultivating a small following on Facebook to draw people toward her website—called the Super Network—where she posts movie reviews and podcasts. On Thursday morning, she woke at home in Melbourne to find her Facebook page blocked.
“I have no idea what Facebook’s algorithm would be that someone like me would be targeted,” said Ms. Papandrea, 36 years old, who blamed both Facebook and the government for the outcome. “At the end of the day, this is like a mudslinging contest.”