ACT government accounts, community groups and small businesses have been inadvertently caught up in Facebook's move to block access to news outlets on the social media platform.
While Facebook moved on Thursday to ban Australians from viewing or sharing news as a response to the federal government's media bargaining code, countless Facebook pages that were not a news service were also barred from being accessed online.
Among them was the ACT Health official Facebook page, which had been used to convey information about COVID-19 restrictions and public health measures during the pandemic.
The ACT government's Facebook page was also blocked from view for several hours, along with Canberra Metro.
Access to those accounts was restored shortly after midday, following a considerable backlash to the move.
Other government-run pages including the Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland Health and SA Health were also impacted by Facebook's decision.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesman said government-run accounts were never meant to be affected by the move to block news services on the platform.
"Government pages should not be impacted," the spokesman said. "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.
"However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently affected."
Despite government accounts being restored after being blocked for several hours, Facebook pages belonging to ACT community advocacy groups, small business and tourism operators remain blocked.
Among them was the page for the ACT Council of Social Service, whose acting chief executive Craig Wallace slammed Facebook's decision.
"Here in the ACT, we have become aware that a number of pages which provide essential information on legal advice, disability advocacy and tenancy support to people at risk at homelessness have had their posts removed," Mr Wallace said. "Information posted to these pages can be vital to the safety of people experiencing disadvantage."
Some of the country's peak science bodies have also expressed dismay at the efforts of Facebook to block content.
Along with the Bureau of Meteorology, Science and Technology Australia, the Australia Science Media Centre and Research Australia were also impacted by the decision.
Science and Technology Australia chief executive Misha Schubert said Facebook's move had denied access to important information online.
"For Facebook to block access to the feeds of trusted science and health organisations in Australia during a pandemic and bushfire season is irresponsible and dangerous," she said.
Many Canberra businesses, unrelated to news, have also been caught up in the Facebook ban, including Underground Spirits and SportsCare and Physiotherapy.
The Facebook page belonging to the Capital Region Farmers' Market has also been removed.
Market manager Sarah Power said she was in disbelief when she found out about the page being blocked.
"It was arbitrary and that was surprising. I don't understand how we got caught up in that and how our page was deemed as being news," she said. "We have up to 16,000 followers on the page, and it's our main communication channel to people. Through COVID it was essential to pass on information and communicate to shoppers about how to stay safe while they were able to buy essential goods."
Media and communications lecturer at the University of South Australia, Dr Damien Spry, criticised the decision from Facebook to block access to critical information from government-run pages.
"In my opinion, and based upon the legislation that I read quite carefully, I can't see any way that government organisations could be defined as a media outlet for the purposes of the bargaining code," he said.