‘A golden opportunity’: How YouTubers, politicians and even conspiracy theorists can seize control of Facebook following Mark Zuckerberg’s ruthless ban on news from the platform
- YouTuber calls on followers to ‘control the narrative’ on Facebook amid news ban
- News still blocked, but politicians and YouTubers can still post unfiltered views
- Dozens of pages and groups promoting conspiracy theories remain
- 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
As news is given the boot from Facebook, YouTubers, politicians and conspiracy theorists are seizing the moment to push their own agendas.
YouTube star Jordan Shanks claims Facebook’s decision to ban mainstream news is a ‘golden opportunity’ for his followers to control the narrative on the platform.
He boasts 800,000 on his social media channel ‘FriendlyJordies’ and has already used his platform to become an influential political force — and in September led an influential campaign against a NSW Government policy that would have seen laws for the protection for koala habitat weakened.
He is also an ardent supporter of the Labor Party.
In his private Facebook group called ‘The Common Sense Brigade,’ Shanks encouraged his followers to create a network of local community Facebook groups.
‘We want boomers/others to join them and the groups to become genuine community hubs that just so happen to be controlled by Common Sense Brigadiers,’ he said.
‘At the moment, you can control the narrative on Facebook,’ he said. ‘We were originally going to make this plan just for the top ten seats the Labor party could win in the next election. We were going to get alternate [Facebook] groups going.’
‘You have pretty much exclusive access on the tool the boomers check out,’ he said. ‘The Murdoch press can’t compete at the moment, you can make these groups.’
Shanks’ comments come amid concerns that fake news and misinformation was dominating the platform following the ban on credible news outlets.
Dozens of pages and groups dedicated to promoting conspiracy theories have continued to operate.
Among those include a group dedicated to promoting the baseless conspiracy that the 1996 Port Arthur massacre was staged and another containing false information about the soon-to-be released coronavirus vaccine.
‘I’m very concerned about Facebook become a site for more misinformation,’ Dr Alex Wake, RMIT University’s senior lecturer in journalism told Daily Mail Australia. ‘All you need to do is log on to your local community page to see all sorts of incorrect information being posted – and no way of correcting with a credible news source.’
Politicians are still able to post their views unfiltered on Facebook, too, with Pauline Hanson, Anthony Albanese and Mark Latham all sharing controversial posts amid the news ban.
Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly spruiked coronavirus misinformation to his 90,000 Facebook followers, before being banned for just a week.
‘I laughed today when I saw that politicians could live stream straight to the public without any people to hold them to account,’ Dr Wake said. ‘It’s the kind of power that is used by dictators.
‘One of the nice things about Facebook was that people could bring in a variety of perspectives not just from their own state, but from around Australia and around the world.’
YouTuber Jordan Shanks has encouraged his followers to create local Facebook groups to ‘control the narrative’ on the platform amid the news ban
Facebook’s ruthless decision to block Australians from seeing or posting any links to domestic or foreign news outlets on its platforms was a response to a planned law requiring it to pay for news shared on its site
Facebook’s decision to block Australians from seeing or posting any links to domestic or foreign news outlets on its platforms was a response to a planned law requiring it to pay for news shared on its site.
Its argument is that it, and other social media organisations, should not be governed by rules and restrictions that apply to other publishers and broadcasters.
Shanks has been contacted for comment.
‘Delete the app,’ says ex-Facebook head
Stephen Scheeler, the former CEO of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, was among those calling for a boycott of the site Thursday after it blocked news content in his home country.
‘Australians should be outraged,’ Mr Scheeler said, adding that it is time for regulators to get tough on the social media giant.
Mr Scheeler compared the move to Chinese censorship, saying that giants like Facebook have an obligation to act fairly in the countries where they operate.
‘It’s like an act of war. That’s how we should view this,’ he added.
He also called CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s motivations into question, saying: ‘For Facebook and Mark it’s too much about the money, and the power, and not about the good.’