AUSTRALIANS have woken up to empty news feeds on their Facebook pages after the company blocked all media content in the country on February 18, 2021.
The move comes after a dispute with the government over paying for content.
Why is 'delete Facebook' trending?
People in Australia are being urged to delete their Facebook accounts after the tech giant banned news stories from its service in the country.
Starting from February 18, 2021, Australian news sites cannot post any content and users cannot share or view content from any news outlet – both Australian and international.
The move has been criticised by news producers, politicians and human rights advocates.
The hashtag #DeleteFacebook is trending as news companies and social media users react to the ban.
Why has Facebook banned the sharing of news in Australia?
Facebook has banned the sharing of news in Australia following a dispute with the government over who should pay for content.
New laws in the country – which are expected to be passed by the Australian parliament within days – would make the social media company pay publishers for news stories shown on Facebook.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused Facebook of "unfriending" the country with the ban.
Pages that are currently unavailable include not only news organisations, but also some NGOs including Save the Children and WWF.
Interestingly, Facebook even banned its own page.
What has Facebook said about it?
Facebook said it blocked media content in Australia because the draft law did not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content.
It added its commitment to combat misinformation had not changed.
A company spokesman said: "The actions we're taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.
"As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.
"However, we will reverse any Pages that are inadvertently impacted."
Facebook also said news makes up just 4 per cent of what people view on its website.
But for Australians, Facebook's role in news delivery is growing.
A 2020 University of Canberra study found 21 per cent of Australians use social media as their primary news source, up 3 per cent from the previous year, while 39 per cent of the population uses Facebook to receive news.
How do you delete Facebook?
To delete your Facebook account, click in the top right of the website, select Settings & privacy.
Then, click Settings and go to Your Facebook Information in the left column.
There, you will find an option named Deactivation and Deletion.
Deactivating your account is temporary, but deleting it is permanent – meaning you will not be able to retrieve any content or information if you wanted to sign up to the social network again in the future.
If you want to delete your account permanently, continue to Account Deletion.
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