Monday 1st of March 2021

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Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has called for Australians to resist the Murdoch media empire “culture of fear” and the emerging monopolies of Google and Facebook.

Proposed bargaining laws simply entrench the power and reach of the Murdoch media empire, he warned on Friday as a witness at a parliamentary inquiry into media diversity.

He called for Parliament to listen to the more than half a million people who had signed a petition calling for action.

“It’s not simply a random call for a royal commission. They know something is crook,” Mr Rudd said.

“The truth in this building is that everyone’s frightened of Murdoch.

“What the Murdoch mob is after is compliant politicians who won’t rock the boat.”

He says monopolies are wrong and lead to corruption that is buried, denied and not investigated, and also change behaviour over time that skew the national debate.

The “Fox News-isation” of the Australian media was well under way, breeding climate change denialism and encouraging far-right political extremism, Mr Rudd said.

“The Murdoch media empire has campaigned viciously against one side of politics.”

Senior executives from News Corp and Nine Entertainment will also attend the hearing, arguing Australian consumers have access to diverse news and information, with very few readers accessing only one news brand.

Australian Associated Press will be represented at the hearing by chief executive Emma Cowdroy, chairwoman Jonty Low and editor Andrew Drummond.

They will argue one of the most efficient ways of supporting media diversity is to ensure the national news wire is properly resourced.

The competition watchdog has said its two key concerns about diversity are the impact of big platforms such as Google and Facebook and ensuring the viability of an independent national news wire.

 

Read more:

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2021/02/19/media-code-entrenches-murdoch-empire-rudd/

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canada with australia...

Following Australia’s lead, Canada has announced that it aims to force Facebook to pay for news content. Ottawa said it would not be intimidated if the tech giant seeks retribution.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said on Thursday that he would begin drafting legislation that could resemble Australia’s bid to make Facebook and other companies pay a licensing fee to feature domestically created content on their platforms. 

Canada is at the forefront of this battle... we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” the minister told reporters. 

He said that Ottawa was also considering a less forceful approach. France, for example, has required tech companies to enter into negotiations with publishers regarding financial compensation, without forcing the issue. Guilbeault said the government was still deciding which model would be “the most appropriate,” adding that he was in consultations with colleagues in France, Australia, Germany and Finland about how to best secure compensation from Facebook.

The minister predicted that soon more than a dozen countries could adopt rules requiring the Silicon Valley behemoth to pay for news content.

The announcement comes days after Facebook blocked all Australian news content on its platform in response to draft legislation that would require it to pay fees to domestic outlets and publishers whose links and content appear on the site. 

Guilbeault said that Facebook would be unable to take similar actions if more countries followed suit, describing the company’s approach to the issue as “totally unsustainable.”

Facebook isn’t the only tech giant in Ottawa’s crosshairs. Guilbeault said that Google could also be subject to future legislation. At the moment, the company is currently in talks with Canadian publishers about using content for its News Showcase service. Google has already reached a deal with Australian outlets, bypassing the current conflict between Canberra and Facebook. 

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/515999-canada-facebook-australia-pay-content/

 

Facebook could be working with the CIA, who knows... 

 

vaccination caper...

Australia’s mass vaccination drive is set to get a publicity campaign, the country’s health minister has said. There will be no advertising on Facebook, however, as the government remains locked in a bitter row with the platform.

As Australia launched its mass vaccination using the Pfizer jab on Sunday, Health Minister Greg Hunt promised a wide-ranging communication campaign to promote inoculation. The publicity drive will take place both offline and online – but nothing will be posted to Facebook, Hunt told national broadcaster ABC.

On my watch, until this issue is resolved, there will not be Facebook advertising. There has been none commissioned or instituted since this dispute arose. Basically, you have corporate titans acting as sovereign bullies, and they won’t get away with it.

Exclusion of the platform from the Covid-19 vaccination promotion comes as the months-long row between the Australian government and the tech giant escalated this week. The feud stemmed from a new Australian legislation that would oblige the tech giant and other companies to pay a licensing fee to local publishers to feature domestically created content on their platforms.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/news/516191-australia-facebook-covid-vaccine/

 

 

No need to get excited. Scomo, our Prime Minister, is as much of a bully than Facial-book is... Tonight, as a publicity stunt for being jabbed, Scomo was being "vaccinated" alongside an old woman from WW2... Scomo showed her how to do the "V" victory sign after being pricked but with a wry smile she did an "up-yours" sign that Scomo tried to change by twisting her hand the other way... Lucky he did not break her wrist... Classic...

 

On the Futilebook front for collecting friends like stamps, the boffins changed the access for "better" management of my data which they collect like horseshit with a shovel. Having changed the settings, I can't access the gizmo because I need to reset my "password" and blah blah blah so it can link with other sucking functionalities... So I have given up on Fartbook...

creepy and ruthless facebook...

Creepy and ruthless Facebook has again impressed with its steely indifference to civic responsibility, as if a company established by a sociopath could ever be a model of human improvement. On February 18, Mark Zuckerberg’s antisocial company took aim at Australia by blocking those in that country from sharing local and international content.

As the company notice to those trying to share material went:


In response to Australian government legislation, Facebook generally restricts the posting of news links and all post from news Pages in Australia. Globally, the posting and sharing of news links from Australian publications is restricted.”

 

As with previous thugs of mercenary trade (the Dutch East India Company and its British equivalent come to mind), Facebook is keen to make the rules it likes, and ignore those of the commonweal. 

It is a plundering pioneer in the world of surveillance capitalism, which has led to what Shoshana Zuboff calls an “epistemic coup” with “unprecedented computational concentrations of knowledge and power” gathered by extracting data elitists. These elitists, in turn, trash such concepts as the rule of law and democracy in the name of profits. 

As she explained in her keynote speech at last year’s EU Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment panel: 


These corporations are not publishers, they are not distributors, they are not merely adtech providers; they are indiscriminate, radically indifferent all-you-can-eat extractors of everything forever, all for the sake of prediction that become more lucrative as they approach certainty.”

 

Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code is one such proposed imposition on these extractive qualities, though it does little to actually redress the central principles Facebook and Google operate under. 

The Code, as it stands, is a compendium of defects sold as politics rather than sound structural change. In it, the Australian government hopes not to restrict surveillance capitalism so much as redirect it.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,the Code would:


address the fundamental bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and major digital platforms.” 

 

It’s all a problem of revenue: the fourth estate is dying, having lost its classified advertising base; the Australian government, unenthused by ideas of creating funding schemes or taxing Big Tech, has come to the conclusion that these giants will subsidize and ultimately regenerate old media outlets. To do so, it proposes making companies reach, through goodwill negotiations, bargains by which revenue can be distributed.

While making wild presumptions of what platforms such as Facebook do with the news (referrals, shares and so forth), the government will also require these Silicon Valley hulks to notify media organisations of any change in their search algorithms and abide by an arbitration mechanism. Disputes on the amount of revenue will then go to an arbitration body. Such scenes promise to be messy: media moguls hunkering down to discussions with such amoral practitioners as Facebook.

The blocking of news content on the Facebook platform precipitated a range of consequences, some of them possibly surprising to Zuckerberg and his crew. The Facebook pages of news organisations were immediately emptied of content. Australia’s ABC put it like this

 

If you search for the Facebook pages of (for example) ABC News, the Sydney Morning Herald, the New York Times, and the BBC, you’ll see a blank feed saying ‘No posts yet.’” 

 

This was not all. The draft Code has a definition of news content of some breadth, which purports to be any material that “reports, investigates, or explains issues that are relevant in engaging Australians in public debate”. When approached for comment on the issue, Facebook confirmed it has pushed its own reading to the limits, citing a lack of clarity. 


As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.”

 

Not that the law has been implemented, but Facebook has been quick on the draw. Snottily, the company promises to “reverse any Pages that are inadvertently impacted.”

Government pages were also caught up in the dramatic scrub, including the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland Health and an assortment of commercial and retail outlets. 

The blocking of content on the bureau’s site was considered particularly galling, given cases of flooding in Queensland and fire danger in Western Australia. “Warnings need to get to as wide an audience as possible as a matter of safety,” tweeted ABC weather presenter Nate Byrne. “Shocking.”

Smaller community news outlets, trade unions, homeless charities, and various local controlled health services were also enveloped in the information clean. Indigenous communities have been particularly bruised.

According to the National Indigenous Times


Indigenous health and media groups fear Facebook’s pushback will have a dangerous impact on regional and remote communities during [the] wet season and the COVID-19 epidemic, with concerns communities will not have access to vital updates on flood warnings or the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.”

 

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services saw the issue of blocking content on its site as a matter of rights, restricting an invaluable means of connecting with the community. 


This is a human rights issue, silencing the voices of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, our representative peak bodies.”

 

In going for the Australian throat, Facebook has resorted to a different approach from that other giant of amoral propensities, Google. Google has repeatedly threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia for similar grievances against the draft Code. But the company has been aggressively negotiating and buttering up Australian media outlets for its News Showcase

The Australian government sees this as a triumph, a strange interpretation given the positively pyrrhic nature of any such outcomes. Google can well argue to have come out better in the deal, its business model left intact.

The time has come to reconsider the very operating rationale of such companies in an effort to address their singular monopoly position. Solutions are not merely to be found in government regulation and antitrust approaches. The very allegiance shown to such platforms by their captive users will have to change. The time has come to save the human project from surveillance capitalism.

 

 

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Read more:

 

https://off-guardian.org/2021/02/20/facebook-unfriends-australia-the-triumph-of-epistemic-chaos/

 

facecrap, facebuck, grooble and gobble scrunchie...

It was the Facebook ad for a mask doubling as a hair scrunchie that pushed Dan Castle to despair.


His company, CastleGrade, makes a reusable, high-filtration face mask that has been popular among dentists, teachers and those who work in proximity to others — and willing to pay $44.99.


But he has been unable to sell his wares on Facebook since August, when the company abruptly blocked his ads, citing a policy aimed at ensuring medical-grade masks are reserved for health care workers. Since then, he said, sales have plummeted to $5,000 a day from $40,000. And yet, he sees ads for nonmedical grade masks all of the time.


“These companies have such a monopoly that you really can’t be in business without them,” he said. “The policy just doesn’t make sense.”


Mr. Castle’s experiences with Facebook echoed those of other small mask producers who have recently began making N95s and other medical grade masks. Largely shut out by hospital networks, they had hoped to sell their high-filtration products online, where Americans do much of their shopping. But the tech giants have not made it easy, even as scientists have urged the public to upgrade their face coverings to those that can block the tiny pathogens that cause infection.

Google and Facebook ban the sale of medical-grade masks, and Amazon limits their availability to shoppers — policies born during the early months of the pandemic, when hospitals were scrambling to obtain protective gear.


But some public health experts and mask manufacturers say these rules are outdated, especially given the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants and the abundance of domestically made masks that are gathering dust in warehouses across the country. The restrictions, they say, may hinder the country’s ability to limit new infections in the months before vaccinations become more widely available.


“Even though cases are coming down right now, we need people to be wearing high-filtration masks to prevent any sort of super spreading resurgences, particularly with these new variants,” said Dr. Abraar Karan, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School who has been pushing for a national program to subsidize and distribute high-filtration masks to the public.

 

 

Read more:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/health/n95-masks-facebook-sale-amazon.html

 

 

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See also: "the media heist" — a theatre play by uncle rupe...