Facebook dominated by conspiracy theories after news ban

Facebook to Fakebook: The social media site is now dominated by cats, satire and conspiracy theories after banning Australians from reading reliable news

  • Expert says Facebook becoming a ‘misinformation nightmare’ after news ban
  • Websites dominated by satire, cats and conspiracy theories are still allowed
  • Comes as Australian MPs debate law to force Facebook to pay for news content
  • PM Scott Morrison said the country ‘will not be intimidated’ into backing down

Facebook’s battle to fight fake news and misinformation will only get harder after the tech giant booted credible news publishers off the platform.

Just 24 hours after Facebook’s blanket news ban affecting its 13 million Australian users, content from satirical websites The Betoota Advocate and The Chaser made up nine of the top 10 most popular links shared.   

Rebel News Australia, backed by far-right figure Avi Yemeni, also crept into the top 10 list, along with Cats Love Catnip – a page dedicated to funny cat photos.

In the 24 hours before Facebook blocked news sharing, the top 30 links measured by engagement mostly came from credible news websites.

‘It’s a misinformation nightmare … Facebook is now Fakebook,’ Journalism Education and ­Research Association of Australia president Alex Wake told The Australian.

A screenshot shows a notification from Facebook that explains a news article cannot be shared

Satirical websites such as The Betooda Advocate have been thriving amid Facebook’s ban on credible news sources. Despite being widely known as a comedy site – many people still fall for the article and think they’re real

‘It’s an extraordinary move from the US-based company which has repeatedly cited its need to respect the first amendment and support free speech and free flow of information,’ she said.

The Government’s proposed law which so unsettled Facebook would create an arbitration panel to set a binding price for news in cases where tech giants failed to reach deals with media companies whose original journalism they linked to.

Facebook executives feared giving in to the laws could set a global precedent where it was forced to pay to distribute news.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Facebook’s actions are as ‘arrogant as they were disappointing’  and called for the platform to return to the negotiation table.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused Facebook of ‘thinking they’re bigger than the government’ after the site cut off all news services in the country

Facebook users called for a boycott of the site today amid fury after it blocked news sites in Australia amid a row over paying for content

‘We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code,’ he said.

‘Just as we weren’t intimidated when Amazon threatened to leave the country and when Australia drew other nations together to combat the publishing of terrorist content on social media platforms.’

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had another call with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Friday morning, which lasted a little over 30 ­minutes.

‘We talked through their ­remaining issues and agreed our respective teams would work through them immediately. We’ll talk again over the weekend,’ the Treasurer said. 

‘I reiterated Australia remains committed to ­implementing the code.’

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been in regular contact with Treasurer of Australia Josh Frydenberg

‘Delete Facebook’, ‘Boycott Zuckerberg’ and ‘Facebook We Need To Talk’ began trending on rival site Twitter on Friday as fury at the move spread around the globe.

David Cicilline, a Democrat politician from Rhode Island in the US, even went so far as to say ‘Facebook is not compatible with democracy’ as people were also urged to give up Instagram and WhatsApp because Facebook owns them. 

British MP Julian Knight said Facebook appeared to be using Australia as a ‘test case’ for how democracies would react to having news banned, and called for legislators around the world to bring the tech giant ‘to heel’.  

ABC News is one of the many reputable Australian news sites now banned from Facebook


Facebook has restricted publishers and social media users in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content.

What does this mean for Australian news organisations?

Australian news organisations will be restricted from sharing or posting any content on Facebook Pages

Admins will still be able to access Page insights and Creator Studio on their Facebook pages

Facebook said they will continue to provide access to other standard services, including data tools and CrowdTangle

What does this mean for international news organisations?

International news organisations can still post on Facebook but Australian users will not be able to see the content or share it

What does this mean for Australian Facebook users?

Australian Facebook users will not be able to view or share Australian or international news content

What does this mean for international Facebook users?

International Facebook users will not be able to view or share Australian news content on Facebook

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