Australian music festivals, arts organisations hit by Facebook’s news publishing ban

The Facebook pages of Splendour in the Grass, Live Performance Australia, Carriageworks and more have been affected

Australian arts entities including cultural organisations, music festivals, performance spaces and more have been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s recent Australian news publishing ban.

The social media platform took preemptive action against Australia’s proposed media bargaining code yesterday (February 18), wiping the Facebook pages of news publishers including ABC, The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald and many more. The proposed code includes legislation, which passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday, that would see platforms like Facebook pay publishers for links to news articles.

As part of Facebook’s changes, Australian news publishers are currently unable to share news content to their pages, and users around the world are unable to share content from Australian news sites to their personal Facebook pages.

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However, a slew of unrelated creative organisations have also been affected by the policy, which Facebook said in a statement to NME they took a “broad definition” with.

The pages of Australian music festivals including Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival were also affected by the ban. While Splendour’s page has since returned to functionality, the latter’s is still blank.

As the Guardian reports, Live Performance Australia, the country’s peak body for its live entertainment and performing arts industry, also found its page wiped completely, with functionality yet to be restored. Performing arts spaces such as Sydney’s Carriageworks and Fremantle Arts Centre in WA were also hit by the ban.

“The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” commented Will Easton, Managing Director of Facebook Australia in a statement shared with NME.

“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. We apologise to any Pages that were inadvertently impacted, and we’re working to restore these.”

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An appeals process will reportedly be launched by Facebook soon, with further information expected to be revealed next week.

Earlier today (February 19), Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he had had a “further conversation” with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding the news ban.

“We talked through their remaining issues & agreed our respective teams would work through them immediately,” Frydenberg tweeted. “We’ll talk again over the weekend. I reiterated Australia remains committed to implementing the code.”

A number of Australian independent music blogs and news organisations have been affected by the Facebook ban. Publications such as Music Feeds, Pilerats, Purple Sneakers, Weirdo Wasteland, Cool Accidents and more found themselves unable to share news to their pages as of yesterday.

Affected publications have been appealing to readers to follow them on alternative platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, signing up to their mailing lists or visiting their web pages directly. [Editor’s Note: Many contributors for NME Australia, including this writer, also write for some of the publications named above.]

In contrast to Facebook’s decision to ban news content on its platform, tech giant Google has engaged in negotiations with a range of Australian news publishers, striking deals with numerous media organisations including News Corp, Nine and Seven West Media.

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