Too often Facebook’s view is: “It’s not our problem”

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Too often Facebook’s view is: “It’s not our problem”

After years as a consumer trying to obtain help from Facebook for privacy/safety issues and being ignored, I am not surprised by its latest action. As an advertiser trying to promote a not-for-profit cause and battling inconsistent rulings and lack of service by Facebook, I am not surprised. As as someone trying to seek assistance directly from its Australian management and being ignored, I am not surprised.

Its arrogance is off the scale. This greedy company which scrimps on ethics to fatten its already bulging pockets. I hope consumers will look elsewhere for news and advertisers will spend their dollars with local and traditional media instead. At least traditional media provides a service.
Sam Pernod, Ballarat

A greater diversity of social media platforms

Facebook is run by an aggregation of algorithms, interacting in complex ways with little human intervention. Individual parts are understood by its programmers but not the whole. It is a massive piece of artificial intelligence acting outside human command, at least in the short-term. The programmers who designed the exclusion of Australia news sites were not able to anticipate the collateral damage to health and civic sites because the differences were too subtle for the algorithms. But, endowed with artificial intelligence, they will learn.

At very least, these complexities suggest disaggregation of social media platforms so that specialisation and competition among a greater diversity of companies might lead to more accountable social media platforms.
Dr Vincent O’Donnell, media analyst and researcher, Ascot Vale

Why are we surprised the focus is on money?

Yes, Facebook should pay for news from those which provide it. But do not be shocked that it has withdrawn some of its services. It is a commercial operation with the primary objective of making money; it is not a public service. It is naive to imagine that Facebook, or banks, energy providers, private health insurers or any privatised essential service, exist just to do the best for the community or individual customers.

Private enterprises can, and will, do whatever it takes to maximise their profits, and that includes refusing to pay others for services that they use, or inconveniencing the public to achieve their objectives. Incidentally, news providers, apart from the ABC, are also profit-motivated private enterprises.
Rob Toogood, Ballarat

It’s time for users to move somewhere else

Humans are amazing at adapting to circumstances. When horses became so ubiquitous that the excrement was the direct cause of a health crisis in cities, humans took to the automobile with great speed and enthusiasm. And now it is time to move on from Facebook. May I recommend Substack or Medium for news and opinion, or to get together. Or we can just wait a while and a better social media company will emerge, just like Facebook did when we were all using MySpace and Friendster.
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza

Finally internet bullies being held accountable

I have worked in IT since 1970. Mark Zuckerberg is a petulant wannabe with too much money. He doesn’t “get” the real world. He thinks everything revolves around “his” world. It does not and that will be his downfall.

Google, on the other hand, revolves around money. So it has negotiated a settlement. The base line is that these internet bullies have been bleeding millions, possibly billions, from our economy. Now they are being held accountable, so Facebook or any service for that matter have to pay. They have not in the past. Use other services.
David Kitchen, Violet Town

A home-grown version of Zuckerberg’s giant

Surely Aussie IT entrepreneurs could set up a Facebook equivalent here. It would obviously be a very lucrative enterprise and, in the short-term, perhaps a government loan would help to get it started.
Jennifer Dickson, Glen Iris


Such unfettered power

I decided to get away from Facebook about two years back. I went through its process and it dutifully gathered up all of the data it had on me and sent it to me in files that I could view outside of Facebook. In the pile of data were the phone numbers and contact addresses for my entire contacts database.

How did Facebook get those and why did it need them? I would not have volunteered them, but maybe Facebook’s massive, fine-print legal agreement secured it that right. Nobody should require nor ask for that power by what is basically stealth. If Facebook loses any power, I for one will feel better. Keep up the pressure, Scott Morrison.
Bruce McLean, Blairgowrie

Try negotiation first

Apart from showing off my vegetable garden, beach box and Asha Barky (my dog named in honour of Ash Barty), the main reason I am on Facebook is to share articles with members of the Aged Care Matters Facebook group. I tried to share the Age article that I would no longer be able to share articles, but could not. Well done, Scott Morrison. The inevitable result of trying to bully rather than negotiate and compromise.
Sarah Russell, Mount Martha

Inconsistent criticism

I am no fan of Facebook but wonder why it is under such attack when other large corporations do not exhibit social responsibility.

We only need look at the large mining companies – especially those involved with coal – which have blocked serious activity on carbon emissions, Rio Tinto blowing up the Juukan Gorge caves and News Corporation with its lobbying of the government on media concentration. There has also been constant lobbying for more deregulation, especially in finance and banking.

Facebook is behaving no differently from any other corporation in trying to impose its will on customers by using government regulation or the lack thereof. If criticisms of it are to have any consistency, they must apply to all large corporations.
Greg Bailey, St Andrews

Alas, the end is nigh

Oh no. We can’t share photos of our food any more, nor expose our pouting lips, or the curves of our latest plastic surgery. It is the end of the world.
Mark Cornell, Ballarat

A history of abuse

Your editorial was correct in calling for an end to the toxic culture in Canberra (The Age, 18/2). My grandmother was a Hansard typist with the Federal Parliament in the early 1900s when it was based in Melbourne. She died without my finding out about her interesting role because every time I tried to talk to her about it, her memories were dominated by her being sexually assaulted “behind the velvet curtain by an MP”.

When she recounted the incident, it was always with a nervous laugh as if it was wrong of her to speak of it. As if she was somehow a party to it, when she always said she “was grabbed”.

No doubt she knew that, if she reported it, she would lose her job. The incident occurred when her father was the publisher of Hansard and her prospective father-in-law was a senior messenger of the Senate. So even these connections could not protect her. Federal Parliament is well overdue for major culture change to particularly protect the young women, like Brittany Higgins and my nan, called to work there.
Sally Gibson, Elwood

Need for proper process

It would appear Parliament has no standing procedure for dealing with misconduct complaints. The process exists in most large organisations, including the public service. As soon as the incident was reported, the employer had a duty of care to the complainant and an obligation to ensure a safe workplace for everyone. It should have been independently investigated in a timely manner.

A proper process provides procedural fairness, including confidentiality, towards the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator. It requires the employer to make available any material requested by the investigator, including video material and other records.

Once the independent investigator makes findings of fact, based on the balance of probabilities, then the employer is in a position to determine consequences and the appropriate workplace sanctions. Any decent employer also provides psychological support to both parties. It would obviously help if all sides of politics, and the media, stopped using these awful incidents for partisan point scoring.
Kairen Harris, Brunswick

A free rein to bully?

So MPs could be fined or sacked from Parliament for serious cases of bullying or harassing staff as part of a proposed revamp of the laws governing Victorian MPs’ behaviour (The Age, 19/2). Shouldn’t it be more newsworthy that, unlike the rest of us, they cannot already be?
Katherine Henshall, Hawthorn

Climate-unfriendly dogs

Dogs undoubtedly played an important role in helping many people manage during lockdown, as Cat Woods says (Opinion, 19/2). It is a pity they also contribute to global warming. It has been calculated that the average-sized dog has a carbon footprint equal to a car. The “regular spending on dog food” that Cat suggests helps the economy is often spent on non-renewable red meat. Perhaps we should limit each household to one dog, as small as possible.
Jan Harper, Port Melbourne

Prevent misgovernance

Super funds and investors generally should be disturbed by the proposal to water down the continuous disclosure regime (The Age, 18/2). The new laws are a permanent extension of relief given to company directors and companies during the pandemic. One only needs to look at the Crown Casino debacle to see how corporate governance can be disregarded.

As a director of an ASX-listed company for 21 years and other listed companies in Australia and New Zealand, I can tell you that management can go to great lengths to discourage directors from releasing bad news in a timely fashion. Maintaining the weaker disclosure rules gives directors a “get out of jail card” and reduces the resolve of boards to resist such pressure.
Michael Feeney, Malvern

End of the clever country

Thank you, John Brumby (Opinion, 19/2), for standing up for one of Australia’s largest export industries, international education. Finally someone presents the facts about international students and their contribution to universities and our economy and society more broadly. It is time that we thought long and hard about how to recommence this important export industry. Surely we can bring back Australians who wish to come home as well as international students.
Helen Larkin, Ocean Grove

Our need for a safe home

Jessica Irvine – “How to stop home price madness” (Opinion, 18/2) – suggests that some people buy houses because there is no capital gains tax on your own residence. I would suggest the major reason is the want of security of housing and an assured investment.
Is she suggesting that if the home were subject to CGT, then demand would fall away along with prices? If the capital gains exemption were removed, then any gain would need to be discounted by the ongoing costs of repairs, maintenance, improvements, inflation, stamp duty on purchase (with interest?), rates and other expenses, including the interest on loans taken to purchase the asset. Numerical analysis supporting Irvine’s suggestion is needed.
Ken Weaver, East Brighton

The joy, then horror

I refer to pages 18 and 19 (The Age, 18/2. First, Miki Perkins’ article about the use of an artificial intelligence-based program to save sea turtles’ eggs. Certainly a high.
Then one by Julie Power documenting how an intellectually disabled woman who was kept in seclusion for up to 23 hours a day for seven years in mental health facilities, graffitied the walls with her own blood. A warm high was followed by a despicable low.
Gail Schmidt, Patterson Lakes


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Frydenberg says Facebook’s action is “heavy handed”. Zuckerberg must be shaking in his billionaire boots.
Marie Hodgens, Burwood

Getting news from Facebook is as sensible as relying on Trump for medical advice.
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava

My simple needs continue to be met. I can still view and share pictures of Airedale terriers on Facebook.
Louise Heuzenroeder, Highton

Good riddance, Mr Zuckerberg. I’ve never used Facebook and never will.
Mayda Semec, Brighton East

Companies that have the guts to pull their Facebook ads should be applauded.
Rod Cripps, Parkdale

Facebook, like the smashing of tennis racquets, is so yesterday.
Patrick Gleeson, Parkville

What does Facebook have in common with the Chinese Communist Party? Plenty.
Loy Lichtman, Carnegie


Shot, jabbed? Enough. It’s an injection, for goodness sake.
Pam Vroland, Silvan

It would be appropriate if Whitten Oval becomes a vaccination hub, given Teddy’s fondness for “sticking it right up ’em”.
Andrew Dods, Ascot Vale

Dan, take a well-earned break from COVID. Turn your attention to the other insidious virus: Crown Casino.
Max Nankervis, Middle Park


Oh the irony. On the day NASA lands a Rover on Mars, Texans are told to boil water whilst suffering power blackouts.
Teresa McIntosh, Keysborough

Will Jon Faine (18/2) be the latest journalist to be labelled a ″⁣left-wing hack″⁣?
David Cook, Soldiers Hill

Faine criticises Morrison and carpets the Murdoch media for supporting him, yet praises Dan Andrews. Hmm, different rules.
Murray Horne, Cressy

Could Jen have a quick word with Scott about climate change?
Penny Smithers, Ashburton

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