Last year, a whistleblower organization claimed that Facebook blocked websites for Australian hospitals and emergency services as a negotiation strategy.
When it deleted all such information from its site in February 2021, the social network owned by Silicon Valley tech giant Meta was trying to undermine a planned rule forcing it to pay news sources in Australia.
However, the business said that the algorithm also banned other websites by mistake, telling AFP on Friday that “any allegation to the contrary is completely and manifestly wrong.”
“To minimize the effect of this stupid and bad law, we aimed to exclude Australian government pages from limitations,” a Meta representative stated.
“We apologized and attempted to solve a technical mistake that prevented us from doing so as planned.”
However, in papers with the US Department of Justice and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Whistleblower Aid said it was a Meta ploy, as originally reported in the Wall Street Journal.
The organization said that Facebook’s five-day suspension of news content providers had “overblocked” local governments, health services, and other sites that helped vulnerable individuals.
According to the organization, the goal was to push the government to weaken the draft legislation.
“This wasn’t simply a case of a corporate actor acting irresponsibly,” said Libby Liu, CEO of Whistleblower Aid.
“To safeguard its profit line, Facebook placed lives in danger.”
Shortly after the blackout, Australia established legislation requiring Facebook to negotiate with news content providers, although some of the more onerous provisions were whittled down by legislators.