The Westender has joined calls today from independent media, community groups and local politicians for Facebook to reconsider its shutdown of Facebook sites relied on by users for reliable local news.

In a show of what can only be described as corporate petulance, Facebook sites, like Westender’s, have been caught up in a war between big media, Facebook and the Australian Government: its posts have been removed, Westender posts shared by other users have been removed, and it is not possible for us to post updates or to direct users to other sites.

Government Ministers have called the action by Facebook, “wrong” and “unfortunate”, while absolving themselves of any blame.

And it’s not just media platforms that have been affected, Government sites like Queensland Health, local community groups, such as Micah Projects, Kurilpa Futures, and local politicians Jonathan Sri and Amy MacMahon have had their posts removed as well.

The response to Facebook’s actions today demonstrate just how reliant we have become on this social media platform since it launched on February 4, 2004.

Councillor for The Gabba, Jonathan Sri told the Westender today, that the move by Facebook appears to be an arbitrary and broad-brush approach to shutting down page content.

“It smacks of totalitarianism.”

“Personally, I’m not really surprised to see moves like this, as I’ve always been very distrustful of companies like Facebook.”

“As a local Councillor, I’ve come to depend quite heavily on social media to get word out about local issues. But I’m glad I’ve also still maintained a big email list. And if residents are wanting to stay in the loop about local issues without relying on social media, they can sign up at jonathansri.com for updates.”

“It’s a real shame that in what you could call this shit fight between multinational media corporations and multinational social media corporations, the obvious casualties are local independent media and community groups, who, in many respects, are more reliant on social media, and have less political leverage.”

Member for South Brisbane, Amy MacMahon – whose site has also been suspended – told the Westender:

“Right now Australians are collateral damage in a standoff between two billionaires – Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg.

“It’s particularly concerning to see the pages of crucial public services like Queensland Health and the Bureau of Meteorology caught up in this fight.

Ms MacMahon said she is hopeful that this is only temporary.

“But we’re not the only ones – local independent journalists, local not-for profits like Micah Projects and campaign groups like Stop Adani have also had their pages suspended.”

Keep up with Westender News

There are some reports of some sites now being restored but the question is, how long can we continue to rely on sites like Facebook. They have flexed their muscle and shown us just what they can do.

Be prepared, keep up with Westender news on Twitter and on Instagram.

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