Facebook deliberately used an over-zealous blocking system that took down the pages of Australian emergency services last year as a negotiating tactic, whistleblowers claim.

The social network moved to block all news outlets in Australia over a row about paying news providers.

But fire services and state health services were also blocked, during fire season and Australia’s vaccine rollout.

Facebook says blocking other pages had been an honest mistake.

Former employees, backed by the Whistleblower Aid charity, say the company intentionally “over-blocked” Australian pages at a critical time to gain leverage over the Australian government.

“It was clear this was not us complying with the law, but a hit on civic institutions and emergency services in Australia,” one employee who worked on the project said, in submissions to Australian and US authorities and reported first by The Wall Street Journal.

A ‘crude’ algorithm
The high-profile row kicked off in February last year, when lawmakers were in the middle of voting on a landmark bill that would have forced social networks to pay news organizations for the content they used on their platforms.

Credits : https://bbc.in/3yrQOMG