As attempts around the world to begin regulating social media giants begin to gather steam in multiple countries, Facebook took the extraordinary step of banning users in Australia from being able to view or share news.
This, in turn, drew outrage and sparked the #DeleteFacebook campaign on Twitter, in which people were encouraged to boycott Facebook, delete their accounts, and also delete apps like WhatsApp that are also owned by the company.
Politicians from all over the world — including from the US — resoundingly denounced Facebook’s actions.
Facebook Gets Into Trouble in Australia
There is a new law in Australia known as the New Media Bargaining Code.
It requires social media companies like Facebook — and even search engines like Google — to pay Australian news publishers for any of their content that they publish or provide links to. Facebook must reach an agreement with news publishers about what is a fair price, but if it is not able to reach such an agreement, an arbitration court will step in to unilaterally decide the matter.
In response to this law, which Facebook considers extremely onerous and threatening to its business model, it has prohibited all of its Australian users from sharing any news on its website. This keeps Facebook from having to pay anything to Australian news publishers.
The harsh move kicked off a firestorm of discussion on the internet in which terms like “delete Facebook” and “boycott Zuckerberg” were in frequent use. The biggest example of this was perhaps the #DeleteFacebook campaign on Twitter.
Politicians from Australia and beyond condemned Facebook for its actions. Julian Knight, a Conservative Member of the British Parliament, minced no words and said that Facebook “should face stern legislative action and be brought to heel that way rather than through the softly-softly approach which they said they wanted.”
“I think they’re almost using Australia as a test of strength for global democracies…,” Knight added. “So, we’re all behind Australia in my view.”
Even David Cicilline, a Democratic Representative from Rhode Island, took to Twitter to excoriate Facebook for what it had done. He said, bluntly, that “If it is not already clear, Facebook is not compatible with democracy.”
Twitter users, meanwhile, exploded in a fury and began sharing memes that made fun of Facebook and called for as many people as possible to delete their accounts and stop using it.