Facebook News Block

Like many non-news sites, my councillor Facebook page has been blocked today. If you visit it, you’ll be able to see some general information but no posts. Many health-related and government pages were blocked, although some have been restored. For example, the City of Greater Bendigo page was blocked for a time, but is now restored, and I hope Facebook sorts out the health-related and government sites pronto, especially as a vaccine is starting to roll-out.

That my page has been blocked is not a big deal, in my opinion. I’m still on Instagram and I have a website, so my ability to communicate with the public through online media has hardly been compromised. But it has given me pause to consider how I communicate with people online. Even though my councillor page is not a news site, I often link to local news sites and give a related comment. As far as I understand it, these posts would be invisible because they are linking to a news site. So, I will start putting a bit more content up on this website. If you want to be notified each time I do that, then you’ll need to plug your email into the widget on the right of screen where it says “Get new posts by email.”

Reflecting more widely on the actions by Facebook, I hope that it will drive people to visit the actual websites of news organisations. Sure, you may not be able to comment on the news article, but the ability to discuss issues on Facebook is overrated – it is rare that you see a respectful yet robust discussion. Can I encourage people, when they visit a news website, to consider paying for its content, or even buying a hard copy version? It’s the only way that we’ll continue to have any journalism worth the name in Australia. Right now, our local daily newspaper is charging $3 per week to view all its content online – I know many are doing it tough, but that is cheap as chips for media content.

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