Facebook is destroying the social licence Australians have given it by abandoning legitimate news on its platform, say democracy groups.
Panning Facebook's decision to include official public health and emergency pages in its latest ban of news content, the Australia Institute and Reset Australia say the decision treated Australians with contempt.
Facebook's blocking of official public safety pages was a dummy spit that made the case for stronger regulation off social media, say pro-democratic group Reset Australia.
The algorithms serving information on these platforms is neither democratic nor balanced, says Reset Australia executive director Chris Cooper.
"The ACT Health page never stood a chance against Craig Kelly, because Craig Kelly's content is sensational," Mr Cooper told The Canberra Times.
"The deck was already stacked against credible information.
"We're all human - the more sensational, outrageous content does engage us better than the facts. Their business model relies on pushing this sensational, outrageous and conspiratorial content because that's what keeps people engaged.
"Now that they are removing credible news sources, it really leaves very little left other than essentially a cesspit of bad information, which has worse outcomes for Australian public."
Facebook could have made design choices that presented balanced viewpoints or ensured healthy content that had the wellness of users in mind, Mr Cooper said.
"The fact that other websites have been caught up in this move by Facebook shows either their reckless abandonment for what's best for the Australian public or gross incompetence and their inability to actually curate and moderate their own content, both of which really build the case for the need for better regulation."
Facebook's failure's in privacy, disinformation and data protection will require a bigger push for stronger regulation, says Peter Lewis from the Australia Institute's Centre for Responsible Technology.
"Without fact-based news to anchor it, Facebook will become little more than cute cats and conspiracy theories," Mr Lewis said.
"At a time when the importance of facts in dealing with a global health crisis are critical, Facebook's decision is arrogant, reckless and dangerous."
Mr Lewis said Facebook has resisted taking accountability for what their network promotes.
In a statement Facebook said government pages should not be impacted, but referred to ambiguity in the drafted law's definition of news content.
"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," the company said. "However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted."
Earlier this month the social media platform revised its content moderation policy to define COVID-19 and vaccine conspiracies that it would removed from its platform.
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