The prime minister of Australia said Facebook’s decision to “unfriend Australia” was disappointing and arrogant.
Scott Morrison has said the Australian government he leads will not be intimidated by Facebook’s decision to block Australians accessing news content on the platform.
The move by Facebook comes after Morrison’s government published a bill that would require social media platforms to pay for news content posted to their website by media outlets, with the tech giant claiming the proposed law “fundamentally misunderstands” that the company is a platform and not a publisher.
Local and global news pages on Facebook have been closed to Australian users since this morning, whilst the closure of multiple government and emergency services accounts was declared “a mistake” by the company which has now been rectified.
Morrison slammed the sudden move by the Silicon Valley company in a statement posted on the platform.
“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” he said.
“I am in regular contact with the leaders of other nations on these issues. We simply won’t be intimidated.”
Mark McGowan, the premier of Western Australia went even further, accusing Facebook of “behaving like a North Korean dictator”.
Facebook is now facing growing calls for a boycott, with “Delete Facebook” trending on Twitter today.
There were also condemnations of the tech giant’s decision from US and British politicians earlier this afternoon, with Democrat politician David Cicilline saying
“Facebook is not compatible with democracy” and Julian Knight MP warning that the company could be using Australia as a “test case” for further control of governmental policies.