Facebook has followed through on its threat to ban Australians sharing news on its platform in response to a proposed media bargaining code.
Australian users and publishers will be restricted from viewing or sharing domestic and international news.
Overseas users also will be unable to access Australian news content.
Facebook has also blocked important government information pages including the weather bureau, health departments and police agencies.
In the process, charities and community groups have been targeted in the widespread censorship blitz.
The social media giant claims it has been left with no choice, arguing the bargaining code is poorly worded.
“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,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has criticise Facebook for its heavy-handed censorship of
“Facebook’s actions were unnecessary, they were heavy-handed, and they will damage its reputation here in Australia,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
“Their decision to block Australians’ access to government sites – be they about support through the pandemic, mental health, emergency services, the Bureau of Meteorology – were completely unrelated to the media code.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said children’s charities being stripped of their content was a disgrace, and warned there was a risk misinformation would spread in the gaps created by Facebook.