Aus Government to stop paid advertising on Facebook while news is cut

The Australian Government Health Department is discontinuing paid advertising on Facebook, while the platform restricts news coverage for Australian users.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, told ABC’s David Speers, that “on my watch, until this issue is resolved, there will not be Facebook advertising”.

He added: “There has been none commissioned or instituted since this dispute arose.”

Facebook removed international and local news, along with some government websites on Thursday.

The national COVID vaccine program begins today and was set to be backed by a $23.9 million integrated media campaign. Phase 1A of the rollout is the three priority groups, for aged care and disability residents and their staff, quarantine and border workers, and frontline health workers.

Phase 1B will focus on the over 80s, the over 70s, Indigenous Australians over 55, those who are immunocompromised, and police and emergency services, amongst others.

Then phase 2A will focus on the over 60s, over 50s, the balance of Indigenous Australians, and then also critical service workers. And then phase 2B will be the balance of the population.

And phase 3, if clinical trials were to provide global information on the efficacy and safety in children, then it would proceed to children.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, who oversees public expenditure, said that the ban would be extended across the whole government.

He told ABC’s Radio National: “My expectation is that we will pull back from advertising while they undertake this type of terrible activity of pulling down sites inappropriately, seeking to exert power or influence over our democratic systems.”

The Australian Government spent $42 million on digital advertising in 2019-20.

According to Facebook, Facebook represents “only a small part” of this diverse and expanding advertising ecosystem. However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report found that for every $100 spent in online advertising, $47 went to Google, $24 to Facebook and $29 to the rest.


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