Statement regarding Facebook's decision to block Australian users from posting news

Managing editor Peri Strathearn chimes in. Murray Bridge News' Facebook page has not yet been affected.

Facebook has blocked its Australian users from posting links to many news sites or stories – but so far, Murray Bridge News appears to be unaffected.

When I launched this outlet last year, I focused on distributing news via a free email newsletter precisely to avoid this kind of risk.

I encourage you to visit www.murraybridge.news/subscribe and sign up to get the latest local news delivered to your inbox every Thursday at lunch time.

You don’t need to pay a cent if you don’t want to – most of our stories are free to read.

In the meantime, I hope to continue posting on Facebook, but we'll see how we go.

Facebook says it has taken this action in response to the federal government’s draft news media code, which would require it to pay a tax whose proceeds would be shared among major news publishers.

Both the Coalition and Labor have agreed to back the proposal, and it is due to become law within weeks.

The proposed code is not perfect.

For one thing, it would unbalance the playing field between established news outlets and start-ups such as this one.

As a small, independent publication with annual revenue of less than $150,000, Murray Bridge News would not receive any income from the code.

The newspaper which covers the Murraylands, The Murray Valley Standard, owned by Australian Community Media, would.

I believe this imbalance would disadvantage smaller, nimbler outlets which are better able to respond to their communities’ needs.

Still, Murray Bridge News opposes this action by Facebook.

Facebook is a private entity and is free to conduct its business as it wishes.

However, this action will have real-world consequences for users who need to share information about the pandemic, bushfires and other emergencies, and will run counter to Facebook’s stated mission “to bring the world closer together”.

Furthermore, any attempt by a multinational corporation to influence a democratically elected government sets a dangerous precedent.

I hope it will reverse this action.


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