Global backlash grows over ‘idiotic’ Facebook


International political figures have called Facebook a "schoolyard bully" trying to "bulldozer" over democracy as backlash grows after the tech giant banned Australian users from sharing news across its site.

"Delete Facebook", "Boycott Zuckerberg" and "Facebook, We Need To Talk" began trending on rival site Twitter as anger spread around the world.

US politician, Democrat David Cicilline, said via Twitter that "Facebook is not compatible with democracy" as people were also urged to give up Instagram and WhatsApp because Facebook owns them.

"Threatening to bring a country to its knees to agree to Facebook's terms is the ultimate admission of monopoly power," Mr Cicilline said.



"It is one of the most idiotic but also deeply disturbing corporate moves of our lifetimes," added British MP Julian Knight.

"I'm almost speechless which is quite rare for a politician," Mr Knight, who chairs British Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told Sky News in the UK.

"Australia's democratically elected government is democratically elected. And they have the right to make laws and legislation. And it's, it's really disrespecting democracy to act in this fashion," he added.

"We represent people and I'm sorry but you can't run bulldozer over that - and if Facebook thinks it'll do that it will face the same long-term ire as the likes of big oil and tobacco," Mr Knight told Reuters.

"Facebook always claimed it is a platform," added Mr Knight. "It very much looks like it is now making quite substantial editorial and even political decisions.



"This for me strengthens the case for robust online harms legislation and for the UK to use competition law in order to try and secure an equitable arrangement for our journalism.'

"It is arrogant, particularly during a pandemic, to basically turn off the taps to a great deal of news. It is not being a good global citizen."

Asked whether the UK should now make Facebook pay for hosting content, he said: "Yes, I think there is a case. If they are effectively monetising other people, then they should pay for it, in my view.

"This bully boy action that they've undertaken in Australia will I think ignite a desire to go further among legislators around the world."

Henry Faure Walker, the chairman of Britain's News Media Association, described the ban during the global COVID-19 pandemic as "a classic example of a monopoly power being the schoolyard bully, trying to protect its dominant position with scant regard for the citizens and customers it supposedly serves".


Facebook blocked content from Sky News UK even though it is not affiliated with Sky News Australia. Picture: Sky News
Facebook blocked content from Sky News UK even though it is not affiliated with Sky News Australia. Picture: Sky News


Facebook was branded "arrogant" and "unconscionable" banning Australian users from sharing news Thursday, as its defiant response to government regulation inadvertently crippled the pages of several emergency services.

The California firm effectively stripped news from Facebook Australia - claiming Australian government proposals it pay for news were unworkable, forcing it to make the move "with a heavy heart".

But the company's haphazard way of implementing its new regimen impacted other global news sites: also missing from Facebook on Thursday were the pages of the UK's Daily Telegraph, which shares a name with Sydney's Daily Telegraph despite being a separate company, and Sky News UK, which is also separate from its Australian counterpart.





Originally published as Global backlash grows over 'idiotic' Facebook