Public Statement – First Nations voices restricted by Facebook

19 Feb 2021
First Nations Media Australia calls for the immediate reinstatement of First Nations media organisation Facebook pages blocked overnight in response to the Government’s proposed Mandatory News Bargaining Code.
First Nations media organisations provide essential information services to First Nations communities. Many organisations have built strong social media followings as a forum for community engagement on topics relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences.
Around half of First Nations Media Australia member organisations have had their Facebook pages blocked today.

“We are outraged that access to First Nations voices has been limited in this way. Never has our media been more vital than during a global pandemic – especially on the cusp of vaccination rollouts,” said Dot West, First Nations Media Australia Chair.

 

“First Nations media services are not the same as commercial outlets and should not be negatively impacted by an industry wide response to corporate interests.”

First Nations Media Australia has provided input to the ACCC’s processes in developing the proposed Mandatory News Bargaining Code, encouraging flexibility in the legislation to avoid unintended consequences such as this.
There are significant definitional issues associated with the proposed Code and significant issues caused by changes to site access and algorithms with no notice by Facebook. Both of which are exemplified by the hit and miss implementation of the restrictions today which have impacted health organisations, community media, First Nations media and other service providers in inconsistent and problematic ways.

“We stand with our sister sectors across community media in asserting that addressing the financial interests of commercial enterprises should not come at the expense of independent publishers of information vital to community safety and democracy in this country,” said Dot West.

 

“The silencing of sovereign voices in this way is unacceptable and inconsistent with Facebook’s messaging in celebration of Black History Month and the platform’s mission to empower people to build community.”

First Nations Media Australia urges the Australian Government to seek an immediate resolution to its conflict with Facebook and to protect the First Nations media industry from further negative impacts.
Furthermore, First Nations Media Australia calls on the Australian Government to recognise the importance of First Nations news and journalism by providing support for the production of news content essential to First Nations communities as proposed in First Nations Media Australia’s Pre-Budget Submission 2021.
#ourmediamatters
Media contact for interviews and images:
Claire Stuchbery
0403 520 765
[email protected]
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