February 23, 2021
CANBERRA — Australia administered its first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA shot on Sunday. But you may not have heard about it if you rely on Facebook for news.
The drama began last Thursday when Facebook blocked all Australian news platforms and links on its website. The move was Facebook’s response to Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code. The new law would require Facebook and Google to pay Australian publishers for disseminating their work on the platforms. The aim is to level the playing field and chip away at Facebook and Google’s global information monopoly.
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William Easton, Managing Director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, said in a blog post that the Australian government “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.” Facebook’s move is receiving praise from big tech and corporate apologists. But the move may ultimately backfire.
Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Heritage Minister, called Facebook’s actions “highly irresponsible.” He told Fox News that Canada, along with Austria, Finland, France and Germany, are working to follow Australia’s lead in 2021. It appears Facebook and the Australian government have reached a compromise; and the platform will “re-friend” Australian news sites this week.
Google, meanwhile, nipped the issue in the bud by signing contracts with News Corp. and other Australian media companies. Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp. (Fox News) and more than half of all Australian media, including 150 newspapers. So take the Murdoch vs. Zuckerberg feud for what it’s worth.
Drama with Aussie vaccine rollout
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic won his ninth Australian Open singles championship on Sunday. The Serbian tennis star is now third all-time in men’s Grand Slam titles (18) behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both tied with 20 apiece. But the news was focused elsewhere after his victory.
Tennis Australia President Jayne Hrdlicka did the presentation ceremony after Djokovic’s victory. But for some reason she started talking about mRNA shots. “With vaccinations on the way, rolling out in many countries around the world, it’s now a time for optimism and hope for the future,” she said. The crowd booed loudly. And Australian government officials “scolded” them the next day.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison did the proverbial on-camera jab meant to encourage others to take the mRNA shots. Protests were held in Melbourne, Sydney and other cities on Saturday. Thousands chanted “my body, my choice” and voiced their unequivocal opposition to mRNA shots and other COVID restrictions.
At least five people were arrested in Melbourne, and 15 more were given citations for “breaching COVID-19 laws,” according to the Australian Broadcasting Company.
World citizens standing together
Prime Minister Morrison revealed his hand in August when he said mRNA shots should be “as mandatory as you can possibly make it.” He flip-flopped a few days later. But there is a clear pattern of global dissent against the COVID-19 agenda. Tanzania President John Magufuli is flat-out refusing to allow mRNA and other shots in the country. Aussie, American, British et al. citizens are continually protesting against the experimental shots.
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