Facebook is facing down calls for a boycott after it took the extraordinary step of banning users in Australia from accessing news in a row over paying for content.
‘Delete Facebook’, ‘Boycott Zuckerberg’ and ‘Facebook We Need To Talk’ began trending on rival site Twitter today as fury at the move spread around the globe.
David Cicilline, a Democrat politician from the US, even went so far as to say ‘Facebook is not compatible with democracy’ as people were also urged to give up Instagram and WhatsApp because Facebook owns them.
Facebook said it had chosen to block news content rather than comply with a new law set to be passed in Australia in the coming days which will force it to pay news organisations for hosting their stories.
Critics blasted the decision, saying it will lead to the proliferation of conspiracy theories and misinformation – which Facebook claims to be tackling.
Meanwhile the ban also led to a host of non-news sites being blocked, including health agencies providing information on Covid, emergency services warning about fires, domestic violence shelters, charities and food banks.
Facebook’s fight with Australia comes amid a global push to force tech giants to pay for content, with similar laws under consideration in the UK, the EU and US.
The company’s shares slipped 1 per cent in early trading in New York in a sign of nervousness about the sudden escalation in tensions.