• Tony Bosworth

Facebook purge - “Sinister, bone-headed, counter-productive. That's what this is.”

Hawkesbury Councillor Nathan Zamprogno blasts the social media giant who've taken down his official site too

It’s not just media sites like this one which have been purged from Facebook, it’s some but not all local councillors, the Mayor’s slot on local radio, several Hawkesbury Council pages, including the Visitor Centre, a local major political party, and many more, and it’s prompted leading councillor Nathan Zamprogno to call it “bully tactics”.

Cllr Zamprogno’s own official page has also been taken down by the American tech-giant. As he puts it – “four years of work, gone”. He’s asked them to put it back up but on Friday afternoon it was still showing a blank page.

“Sinister, bone-headed, counter-productive. That's what this is,” Cllr Zamprogno told the Post this afternoon – Friday.

Some sites have been taken out by Facebook for no obvious reason

The councillor’s official site is well known as an erudite offering of opinions, facts, and informative videos on issues such as electorate boundary changes. It’s professional and competent but it is not a news site as such.

“I breached no rule of fake news, incitement or obscenity,” Cllr Zamprogno said.

“I'm just collateral damage in their war against Federal Regulation. “But four years of work, gone. My efforts to inform, warn and encourage our local community, silenced, just like small local news outlets, charities, community organisations, health information websites... even the Bureau of Meteorology. Some Hawkesbury Council pages and content are also off-line. “Facebook’s dispute is with the Federal Government. It shouldn’t cancel media outlets like the Hawkesbury Post, charities, government health sites or pages that are issuing critical COVID-related advice”, says Cllr Zamprogno.

“Even the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) didn’t escape the purge, which is ridiculous.”

“Yes, there are boundaries to free speech, but this is manifestly a bully tactic designed to cow any government that seeks to regulate the social media giants. I think it’s a spectacular own-goal for Facebook, and their brand will be permanently damaged by this,” said Cllr Zamprogno.

“Society has to recognise that in our system of open democracy, the role of a free and viable Press serves a critical role to hold the powerful to account, and to provide a shared sense-making dialogue that helps us parse Truth from flim-flam, scare-mongering and misinformation.

“I think the solution should have been to tax digital ad revenues, and set up a fund to support journalism. The Federal Media Code scheme may be flawed, but Facebook’s response shows the Federal Government have picked the right fight.

“The eyes of the world are on us to hold our nerve – not unlike Australia pioneering plain packaging for cigarettes against a barrage of spurious lawsuits from the tobacco industry. We won that fight, and other countries followed our lead.

“That Facebook would make only the most cosmetic of efforts to rid their platform of inflammatory content, and yet will ban wholesale professional journalism, factual information, and elected representatives, shows just how badly better regulation in the digital space is needed.”

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