Councillor Bruce Devereaux has hit out at facebook after the tech giant banned his own blog and personal business as part of its wider wipeout of news outlets last week . Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
Councillor Bruce Devereaux has hit out at facebook after the tech giant banned his own blog and personal business as part of its wider wipeout of news outlets last week . Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times

Collateral damage: Facebook ban wipes out a decade of work

Gympie councillor Bruce Devereaux has hit out at Facebook's nuclear news ban, saying the tech giant's behaviour was "poor" after his personal blog Big Family Little Income was wiped out as collateral damage by the company.

The blog about the trials and tribulations of his family, and occasionally spruiking products, was among the non-media pages caught in the crossfire when Facebook attempted to wipe news from its platform Australia-wide last week.

The ban was in response to a new law making its way through parliament requiring the company to pay news outlets for content.

However, it also meant a decade of Mr Devereaux's work was wiped out.

"I spent 10 years building this up, and paying Facebook," he said.

Mr Devereaux says as one of Facebook’s paying customers, the decision to wipe the page for his blog was “poor”.
Mr Devereaux says as one of Facebook’s paying customers, the decision to wipe the page for his blog was “poor”.

It was this that particularly stung, he said, having one year spent $11,000 with the company to grow his page and business.

"Why would they consider me to be one of them (media outlets)?

"Being a paying customer and being treated like this is just poor."

Equally frustrating was the radio silence from Facebook over his page's ban.

"They never answer any messages," Mr Devereaux said.

The blog was not the only non-media outlet with a Gympie footprint to become collateral damage.

The pages for Clayton's Towing, the RACQ Lifeflight and charity STEPS were all wiped out as well, leaving some to plead for their feeds to be brought back online.

 

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STEPS managing director Carmel Crouch said the ban cost the charity dearly, putting more than six months of planning, hard work and money to waste.

"I'm disgusted that Facebook would do this," Ms Crouch said.

"It's completely irresponsible, and frankly incomprehensible, as to why they would choose to go after the little guys like this.

"Their actions have directly impacted the most vulnerable people in our community."

Since the ban was implemented Facebook has apologised for blocking health and emergency sites.

Tuesday afternoon the company had reportedly called a truce with the Federal Government and agreed to end the ban in the coming days.

Wide Bay MP Llew O’Brien welcomes Facebook’s backflip on the ban following further negotiations with the Federal Government. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Wide Bay MP Llew O’Brien welcomes Facebook’s backflip on the ban following further negotiations with the Federal Government. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

This came as the Government agreed to amend parts of the law.

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien said the company's ban was "heavy handed" and he welcomed Tuesday's backflip.

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"Facebook's actions demonstrate a misuse of market power and corporate arrogance that all Australians should be very concerned about," Mr O'Brien said.

"While Facebook can be a convenient source of information, it's always best to obtain news directly from a range of sources so you can see the news you want to see, rather than relying on Facebook's complex algorithms that only deliver what Facebook wants you to see.

"I encourage everyone to source their news from reputable news outlets that employ quality journalists."

But some damage had already been done; Mr Devereaux said he was lucky to no longer be in a position where the blog was his sole source of income.

Mr Devereaux says he feels for other bloggers whose main income stream was cut off by the ban.
Mr Devereaux says he feels for other bloggers whose main income stream was cut off by the ban.

"If I didn't have another job at this point … I feel for my blogger friends (caught in the crossfire).

"My agent approached me last week with a job … and I can't do it."

Of course, there was a "hilarious" side to it all.

"(My wife) Tracey said "they think you're informative".

Gympie Times


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