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Queensland Resources Council targeted in national Facebook ban

Ian Macfarlane 2021
Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane

An industry advocacy has become the latest victim of an Australia-wide social media blackout.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) confirmed its Facebook page was completely blocked when the internet company decided to stop users from accessing Australian news information on February 18.

‘Still down’

“Our Facebook page is still down as part of Facebook’s ban on Australian news sites,” a QRC spokesperson said in a public statement.

When QMEB tried to access QRC’s official Facebook page, an error message appeared stating the page was unavailable, link may be broken, or entire page might have been removed.

The council believes it was wrongly added to the long list of media outlets, government agencies and organisations that were banned by Facebook.

“Our page should not have been affected as the QRC is not a news service,” the spokesperson said.

Ban called an error

A quick inspection of the QRC website confirmed the council promotes itself as a not-for-profit “peak industry association,” which represents commercial developers of minerals and energy resources across the Sunshine State. There is nothing to suggest it offers a media news service.

QRC hopes Facebook’s content moderation team will realise this, and vowed to keep pointing out the error until the page is fixed.

“We are continuing attempts to restore our page and will keep members informed,” the spokesperson said.

Avoiding payment

Facebook Australia defended blocking the content by portraying the action as a political bid to stop the federal government introducing new legislation that compels the company to pay for Australian news content.

“In response to Australia’s proposed new media bargaining law, Facebook will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director William Easton said in a public statement.

The decision means no readers will be able to share or access Australian news content on Facebook pages anywhere in the world.

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APRS Media, which publishes QMEB and the Australasian Mine Safety Journal, was also temporarily blocked until the decision was finally reversed on February 22. The publisher had expressed concern the ban was “counter productive” to updating the industry about work safety issues.

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