Editorial: In Response to Facebook’s Australian News Ban19 February 2021
In response to the Federal Government’s proposed media bargaining code, all Australian news services—including student media—have now been banned by Facebook from publishing posts and sharing news links from their accounts.
It is a bewildering and heartbreaking time for Australian media. In recent years, many student media outlets, Farrago included, have increasingly divested from print to online media. The 24/7 news cycle and changing consumer habits have demanded it. This was reinforced and accelerated by COVID-19, which locked us away from our offices and from traditional news practices, and scattered the student body we serve across Australia and throughout the world.
As the pandemic continues to limit our ability to reunite with our student community this coming year, our online presence and social media channels are our only way to connect with many of our readers and contributors. This is especially true for international students overseas, for whom student media provides a slim link to a university they continue to pay exorbitant fees for, but remain physically disconnected from.
Facebook in particular, with its many community-building features, is the social media platform that acts as the primary bridge between us and students. It is home to our largest audience, and is where we receive the most engagement. To have that taken away from us, and 10 years’ worth of content and social interaction blocked overnight, was gutting. We are shocked and disgusted, to say the least.
Unlike commercial news sites, Farrago’s is not profit-driven. It is made by students, for students—we promote student support and development, and where youth media consumption habits have shifted online, it is our duty to move with them and operate accordingly. Our resources and capacity to engage with the student body during a pandemic are already limited, and this development has further stifled it.
Times such as this force us to adapt to new ways of sharing content. While continuing to resist and appeal against this decision, we will in the meantime focus on your alternative social media channels, and connect with our community in the form of a fortnightly newsletter. If you are a Unimelb student, alumnus, or even simply an interested reader, we encourage you to sign up to our mailing list.
Lauren, Ailish and Pavani (2021 Farrago editors).