QUOTES-Reaction to Facebook blocking Australian news
(Raw quotes from officials, media publishers, NGOs and thepublic in a breaking news situation)
SYDNEY, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The following are reactions fromacademics, politicians and NGOs after Facebook Incblocked all Australian media content including officialinformation on coronavirus, wildfires and other importantservices, in an escalating dispute over paying for content.
WILL BERRYMAN, CEO OF THE ROYAL INSTITUTION OF AUSTRALIA,PUBLISHER OF COSMOS SCIENCE MAGAZINE in a statement:
"We hope that Facebook remedy this quickly, because we’re inthe business of sharing important, science-based information ata critical time, and it serves no-one’s interest to have thatlost and replaced by unchecked stories."
CHRIS COOPER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RESET AUSTRALIA, localaffiliate of global nonprofit digital democracy NGO, in astatement:
"Facebook blocking news in the middle of a pandemic, whenaccurate information is a key plank of the public healthresponse really tells you all you need know about how much(Facebook CEO Mark) Zuckerberg cares about Australian societyand cohesion.
"Facebook is telling Australians that rather thanparticipate meaningfully in regulatory efforts, it would preferto operate a platform in which real news has been abandoned orde-prioritised, leaving misinformation to fill the void."
MICHELLE ROWLAND, OPPOSITION LABOR PARTY COMMUNICATIONSSPOKESPERSON, to reporters:
"There’s been a lot of analysis done about whether Facebookbecomes a much more diminished product and less compelling spaceto be if news is removed. Australia is the first place in theworld where this is occurring, so we are literally a petri dishfor this."
AUSTRALIAN TREASURER JOSH FRYDENBERG, at a televised mediaconference:
"Facebook was wrong, Facebook's actions were unnecessary,they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation herein Australia."
SAVE THE CHILDREN AUSTRALIA CEO PAUL RONALDS, in astatement:
"Save the Children has come to rely on the platform tocommunicate with our supporters and members of the widerAustralian community. We also use Facebook as an importantfundraising tool to reach generous supporters who want tosupport the world’s most vulnerable children.
"Every minute that our page is down is another minute ourmessage isn’t getting out about the needs of children."
FIRST NATIONS MEDIA AUSTRALIA CHAIR DOT WEST, in astatement. The group is the peak national body for Indigenouscommunity broadcasters:
"We are outraged that access to First Nations voices hasbeen limited in this way. Never has our media been more vitalthan during a global pandemic - especially on the cusp ofvaccination rollouts.
"First Nations media services are not the same as commercialoutlets and should not be negatively impacted by an industrywide response to corporate interests."
FOODBANK AUSTRALIA CEO BRIANNA CASEY, in a tweet:
"This is UNACCEPTABLE. Demand for food relief has never beenhigher than during this pandemic, and one of our primary commstools to help connect people with #foodrelief info & advice isnow unavailable. Hours matter when you have nothing to eat. SORTTHIS OUT!"
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, in an emailed statement:
"This is an alarming and dangerous turn of events. Cuttingoff access to vital information to an entire country in the deadof the night is unconscionable."
TAMA LEAVER, PROFESSOR OF INTERNET STUDIES AT AUSTRALIA'SCURTIN UNIVERSITY, speaking to Reuters:
"There's been a climate the last two or three years ofthinking Facebook isn't doing as good a job of looking afterpeople as it should and I think, whether intentional or not,also blocking emergency services websites and things like thatin Australia is a really bad idea in a time of bushfires andCOVID.
"Facebook is 17 years old so it's a petulant late teenagerand behaving accordingly, but when you've got globalcommunication as part of what happens on your platform, youdon't get to have a strop (temper tantrum)."
MADELEINE KING, FEDERAL OPPOSITION LAWMAKER, in a tweet,referring to impacted emergency services:
"So Facebook can instantly block @abcperth, @6PR, @BOM_au,@BOM_WA, AND @dfes_wa in the middle of the #bushfire season, butthey can't take down murderous gun crime videos? Incredible.Unbelievable. Unacceptable. The arrogance."
LISA DAVIES, EDITOR OF THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD NEWSPAPER,in a tweet:
"Well, that's a tantrum. Facebook has exponentiallyincreased the opportunity for misinformation, dangerousradicalism and conspiracy theories to abound on its platform."(Compiled by Jane Wardell; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)