Joe Hildebrand says Facebook news ban an insult to Australians

The move by misinformation monopoly Facebook to ban legitimate Australian news from its platform is the biggest act of corporate bastardry in this country since James Hardie literally left people for dead.

Indeed, there are already grave concerns that Facebook’s ban will also cost lives because of the way it will allow falsehoods about the coronavirus vaccine and countless other health measures to flourish while disallowing the reporting of legitimate journalists and experts.

It would be tempting to call it a dog act but this would be a disservice to dogs. Dogs are loyal creatures who tend to love and protect any home in which they find themselves. When Australia opened its doors to Facebook it instead ate out our institutions from the inside like Ridley Scott’s alien.

Newsrooms are now shells of what they once were, and I say that as someone who has worked for just about every major media organisation in the country. Mainstream media was of course already under threat from new online outlets and while the merits of that can be debated, it was at least fair. If we were losing our audience to new purveyors of news or opinion then it was up to us to do better or die.

But the Facebook model is not that. The Facebook model is to use all the hard work and resources of those newsrooms – the very same stories themselves – to attract millions of eyeballs to its millions of pages and then use that monster audience to pull advertisers away from the media outlets that produce those stories.

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In short, it steals the product and then it steals the people who pay for the product and when the people it has stolen from complain, Facebook has the sociopathic hide to say we don’t understand its business model. In fact every jobless journalist, sacked sub-editor and would-be cadet who never got a start understands it perfectly.

Facebook also protests that it in fact directs audiences to media outlets but that is not much consolation when they are the ones at the door clipping tickets and collecting the cover charge.

And in the same breath as claiming credit for this it also pretends that it doesn’t do anything at all – that it is a “platform”, not a “publisher”, and it is merely its happy band of users who publish all this material. In that case I wonder when it will hand over all its advertising revenue to them. That’s a lot of rich Karens.

And so of course the argument is as fake as the news Facebook is still happy to produce. Its users are not autonomous micro-publishers, they are merely avenues through which Facebook can grab more and more advertising money, eyeballs they can use as leverage at their next power-meeting.

Like the alien, like all parasites, Facebook needs a host and it is not just newsrooms that it ravages but its own users. Indeed, they are the ones being put to work to harvest and/or produce all the content that attracts the audiences that attracts the advertisers that Facebook then takes all the money from.

It is effectively an online slave economy in which the workforce doesn’t even know it is working for free.

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And now this monopolistic multinational cash and human harvesting machine, which allowed the livestreaming of 51 murders in Christchurch, which allowed the wildfire spread of conspiracy theories about paedophile rings in the 2016 US election, which allowed the private data of 87 million users to be secretly accessed by a third party and which allows to this day an almost limitless spread of fake news has decided to take a stand – a stand against real news.

And so my advice to every Australian who values truth, fairness and decency is this: Get out. Get out now.

Delete the app, close your account or simply leave. I logged off long ago and have not missed it for a second – in fact I’ve barely even noticed. I’ve also dumped Twitter and I’ve never been happier.

The real world, for all its faults, is a much better place than anything you will find on social media and every minute you spend on social media is a minute you’re missing out on it.

But it also sends a message to mega-bullies like Facebook who attempt to inveigle themselves into our lives and then hold those lives to ransom that we are not slaves and we will not play their game anymore. If Facebook wants to abandon Australian news and Australian facts then it’s time for Australians to abandon it.

We live in a beautiful country. Let’s lift up our eyes and take a look around.

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