Federal government withdraws Facebook ad as feud escalates


The federal government is pulling all of its advertising campaigns from Facebook as the social media platform continues to block Australians from accessing news.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday that his ministry would not use Facebook for advertising campaigns.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, who oversees government spending, said on Monday the ban would be extended to government-wide.

“I expect that we will withdraw from the publicity as they undertake this type of terrible activity of inappropriately deleting sites, seeking to exert power or influence over our democratic systems,” a- he told Radio National.

“We will not tolerate this, we will stand firm on the legislation and look at all these advertising points.”

The government spent $ 42 million on digital advertising in 2019-2020. The ACCC reported that about a quarter of all online advertising spending in Australia goes to Facebook, indicating the move could cost Facebook millions.

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The move comes after Facebook blocked news and news-related pages for Australian users last week.

Charity, health, and government pages including 1800Respect, the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services, and the Bureau of Meteorology were also “inadvertently” blocked.

Facebook’s move was prompted by a government bill to force digital tech giants to negotiate with publishers how much to pay for using the news in search results or on social media.

On Monday, Senator Birmingham said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had had further conversations with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“We urge Facebook to recognize that it should behave as we would expect any other content re-publisher to behave,” he said.

He added that the government was committed to the current form of the bill, despite ongoing discussions with Facebook.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company was engaging with the government on “our continuing concerns about the bill.”

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“We will continue to work with the government on amendments to the law, with the goal of achieving a stable and fair path for Facebook and publishers.”

The deals between Google and publishers reported last week totaled more than $ 60 million.

Misinformation code

As the dispute between Facebook and the government continues to rage, digital giants – including Facebook – on Monday released industry code aimed at tackling the spread of disinformation.

The code has been adopted by Twitter, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Redbubble, and TikTok, and developed by Australian internet and social media industry group DIGI.

It requires signatories to “develop and implement measures to reduce the spread and potential exposure of users” to disinformation and disinformation.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority will report to the government on the effectiveness of the code by the end of June.

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“In this code we have worked to strike the right balance with what we think people expect when communicating on the Internet,” said Sunita Bose, CEO of DIGI.

“Businesses are committed to adopting strong safeguards against harmful disinformation and disinformation that also protect privacy, freedom of expression and political communication.”

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the government would “be watching closely” to see if the code was effective.

The code responds to a recommendation of the 2019 ACCC digital platforms survey.

In its official response to the inquiry, the government supported the recommendation in principle, warning that “if the actions and responses of the platforms do not sufficiently address the concerns identified by the ACCC, the government will consider the need to take new measures ”. .