Australian health departments and the Bureau of Meteorology have been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s massive news ban

  • Facebook’s ban on Australian news content appears to have impacted state health departments and the Bureau of Meteorology, among others.
  • SA Health says it has reached out to Facebook after its page was silenced.
  • Those pages were impacted after Facebook said it would remove Australian news from its platform, in response to looming news media legislation.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

State health departments, advocacy groups, and the Bureau of Meteorology appear to have been silenced on Facebook, after the social media giant announced it would ban Australian news content from being shared on its platform.

On Thursday morning, the Facebook pages for SA Health, QLD Health, ACT Health, and Australia’s national weather bureau displayed zero active posts.

In a statement posted to Twitter, SA Health said its Facebook page appeared to have been caught up in the site’s purge of news content in Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology had its presence muted, leading the organisation to say it believes it was “impacted by the broader Facebook changes.”

In response to the Bureau of Meteorology being silenced, ABC News meteorologist Nate Byrne accused the social media platform of hampering vital weather alerts.

“Warnings need to get to as wide an audience as possible as a matter of safety,” Byrne said.

“Shocking.”

Advocacy group Australian Council of Social Services was also impacted, while the Australian Unions Facebook page was temporarily muted, leading the organisation to declare Facebook actively prevented workers from organising.

The Facebook pages of literary journals, music festivals, and satirical news sites including The Betoota Advocate and The Shovel have also been barred from posting.

The rash of hidden Facebook pages comes after the platform announced it would ban news content being shared in Australia, in response to the Federal Government’s news media bargaining code.

If passed into law, the code could compel Facebook and search giant Google to pay Australian outlets for the news links hosted on their platforms.

On Thursday morning, Facebook said it would bar Australians from posting or sharing news content on the platform instead of paying local outlets for their work under the new code.

In a separate statement, the company said official government pages should not be impacted by the ban, which is “focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.”

The company said it has taken a “broad definition” of ‘news’ to comply with the draft legislation, but stands ready to restore any pages which were inadvertently impacted by the ban.

Despite the evaporation of news content – and posts from public health authorities – Communications Minister Paul Fletcher today told ABC News Breakfast the Federal Government intends to move forward with the legislation.