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World Australia health chiefs freeze Facebook ads

07:17  22 february  2021
07:17  22 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Australia's health department will no longer advertise on Facebook, it has announced, the latest escalation of the government's feud with the social media giant, which continues to block news content from its platform in the country.

Australia's health department announced it would no longer advertise on Facebook © Josh Edelson Australia's health department announced it would no longer advertise on Facebook

The freeze comes as Australia begins to promote its newly launched Covid-19 vaccination rollout with a nearly US$20 million public information blitz aimed at boosting uptake and countering a flood of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday his department would still pay to promote the vaccine campaign, just not on Facebook.

Australia's fire services, charities and politicians blocked in Facebook's chaotic news ban

  Australia's fire services, charities and politicians blocked in Facebook's chaotic news ban Fire and emergency services. Domestic violence charities. State health agencies. © Robert Cianflone/Getty Images A message is seen on Facebook mobile, on February 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers and users in Australia from posting and sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing or using content on their platforms.

"All of our funds will be used," said Hunt. "We will continue to post on that particular channel, we just won't be boosting." 

Australia's government is locked in an acrimonious dispute with Facebook over a law that would force digital platforms to compensate media outlets for online content.

Facebook strongly objects to the proposed legislation, and in retaliation on Thursday blocked virtually all Australian news on its platform.


Video: Backlash grows as Facebook imposes Australia news blackout (AFP)

Posts by several emergency services were briefly also caught in the blackout, sparking outcry.

The law is expected to be finalised in parliament this week and Facebook is believed to still be in talks with Australian media companies and the government to find a last-minute solution.

Facebook's dramatic response contrasted with that of Google, which has inked deals with several media firms, including Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and the Guardian.

While Australians remained unable to share news articles or view media groups' Facebook pages, the country began its vaccination drive on Sunday.

Jane Malysiak, an aged care resident and WWII survivor in her 80s, was first in line.

The prime minister and other top officials were also among a small group receiving the first jabs, before the programme expands this week to cover frontline health care workers and other officials.

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Australia passes new law requiring Facebook and Google to pay for news .
Australia has passed a new law that will force tech companies to pay publishers for news content, setting the stage for potential, similar action in other countries. © Robert Cianflone/Getty Images MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: In this photo illustration a message is seen on Facebook mobile, on February 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Facebook has banned publishers and users in Australia from posting and sharing news content as the Australian government prepares to pass laws that will require social media companies to pay news publishers for sharing or using content on their platforms.

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