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What happens when Facebook slows down the news flow



Residents of Thursday Island, spotted on the Torres Strait Islands, have been relying on Facebook for years the company

FB 1.15%

Get all the information, including hurricane warnings, crayfish prices, and recent parvovirus outbreaks in nearby pets.

The platform does not consume data like other websites, which is a priority for remote communities where people often use prepaid phones. Newspapers and radio stations are staffed by indigenous reporters who publish Facebook updates in the local dialect-an important feature for people whose English is a third or fourth language. This is the real-time information available to the island. By the time the newspapers from mainland Australia arrived, the news had been about a week old.

“The website is our second stop,”

; said Kantesha Takai, a 29-year-old small business owner on the island. “We are very dependent on giants like Facebook.”

Kantesha Takai, a small business owner on the island on Thursday, asked social media for important updates about his remote communities. “We are very dependent on giants like Facebook.”


photo:

Kantesha Takai

Mark Zuckerberg (Mark Zuckerberg) cut off a key link in the communication chain in such areas when Facebook blocked news from national social media platforms. This is in line with the Australian government forcing the company to pay for news services for shared content. The plan formed a strong backlash. website. Although the company reached an agreement earlier this week, the experience of Ms. Takai and her neighbor in a small town on an island reveals a side of the world’s largest social media platform, when challenged in negotiations, The platform can become straightforward and cruel.

Their past week has illuminated a new chapter in the moody youth of the 17-year-old company, this chapter puts the users who make up the platform in the battle between the giants who run technology companies and the giants who want to regulate them. It became collateral damage.

Among the indigenous peoples of Australia, especially those in remote communities, their use of social media platforms has been more effective, especially in the weather patterns and pandemics triggered by climate change, the impact of the sudden absence of Facebook is particularly obvious. In these places, Facebook’s goal of connecting with the world has proven to be almost effective. When the company quarreled with Australian government officials, residents like Ms. Takai did not have the most effective severe weather warning and Covid-19 method information. After spending years defending the platform from accusations of conspiracy and false information trafficking, Facebook took away legitimate news sources from the most vulnerable people on the mainland a few days before distributing the coronavirus vaccine.

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with lawmakers to allow it to return news to the site. It agreed to pay some news media through its own strike transaction, although the details have not been disclosed. Nonetheless, the company’s initial and dramatic reaction has also brought potential warnings to legislators in other countries, who are considering legislation in countries that the service may not like.letter company’s

Google, another company covered by Australian law, initially threatened to leave the country before agreeing to pay some publisher content fees with new publishers earlier this month. These publishers include News Corporation, which is the owner of Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, which is lobbying the government for a position.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the impact of the power outage on indigenous communities. In a company blog post on the Australian incident published on Wednesday, spokesperson Nick Clegg wrote: “The Australian incident shows the danger of pretending to bid on cash subsidies after the Internet’s operation has been distorted.

“Understandably, some media groups see Facebook as a potential source of funds to cover losses, but does this mean they should be able to request a blank check?” He added.

As lawmakers are debating a bill to force social media companies to pay for content, Facebook prohibits Australians from viewing or sharing news reports. This legislation is receiving attention on a global scale and may provide a reference for other countries. Photo: Josh Edelson/Getty Images (Originally scheduled for release on February 18, 2021)

Those who run indigenous news sites admit that they don’t like to dazzle Facebook, but for communities that prioritize disclosure of information to the public, the platform has become indispensable. Nearly half of Australia’s 25 million residents have Facebook accounts, but the platform has a special influence in its “indigenous” community. These communities account for approximately 3% of Australians, and their descendants are descendants of people who lived on the continent before the British colonized the continent in the late 18th century.

Indigenous people who moved to the city used Facebook to keep in touch with people in their hometown; passed down and shared oral stories; and public health information was published in hundreds of local dialects.

The disappearance of Facebook has had a disproportionate impact on Australian indigenous communities, which seems to run counter to the spirit of the company’s touted. As you can imagine, at another moment, Facebook placed the fishermen and the elderly on Thursday Island in an advertisement, telling the beauty of mutual connection.

Naomi Moran, vice chairman of First Nations Media, said that as of Tuesday, it is difficult for indigenous news media whose news pages have been blacked out to contact Facebook directly. Instead, they rely on lawmakers to file a lawsuit against the case and proceed as quickly as possible. Get restored. Leading news organization to serve the community.

“This is thanks to our employees who sorted the fragments into a problem that we didn’t cause. For the aborigines all over the world, this is an ancient story.” She said.

The information vacuum created by Facebook is particularly exciting for people in the indigenous media industry, because the country is preparing to launch the Covid-19 vaccine, and the incidence of comorbidities in indigenous communities is higher, which may make the virus more deadly.

Hannah Cross, the editor of the National Aboriginal Times, was shocked to see all the Facebook posts in her newspaper-erased from the page. These posts usually cover everything from the exhibition of the Aboriginal artist to your local dialect. Get information on social distancing guidelines in. Replace with: a note that says “No posts yet.”

She said: “I didn’t know I woke up in Orwell’s “1984”.”

On February 23, a screenshot of the Facebook page of the Australian National Indigenous Times showed that the news feed was empty after Facebook banned news content in the country.


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No credit

When Facebook’s machines swept through non-news pages and caused the country’s Meteorological Bureau (another source of hurricane warnings) and domestic violence hotlines to be temporarily interrupted, Facebook’s response quickly evoked repercussions. Independent blogs with a small number of followers were also cut off.

Even if an agreement is reached, the experience of waking up on the most popular social media platform in the world without news will produce a lasting experience for people in Australia and those whose companies seem to be located in Menlo Park. Impact. Any border or jurisdiction. The blackout is a response to a bill that the Australian government is preparing to pass democratically. But, as Australia’s Treasury Secretary Josh Frydenberg put it, the “war of proxy” can’t help but send a shocking message to other lawmakers who want to regulate the service in various ways.

For those who are in trouble due to power outages, teach them this week-is the pivot in Silicon Valley’s discourse. Ms. Cross has been pushing readers to newsletters and websites for her papers.

She said: “We learned that we can’t just rely on Facebook.”

For those who make a living on the island on Thursday, Ms. Takai said that her fishermen’s family can rely on natural instincts when they are hanging out in the water and their mobile phones are not working.

Ms. Takai said: “We know the seasons, and when the wind changes, we know what it means.”

Write to Erich Schwartzel, email: erich.schwartzel@wsj.com

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