Statement on Facebook blocking science expertise

February 18, 2021

The nation’s peak bodies representing science and scientific expertise have expressed deep concern about Facebook blocking content today from a range of non-news science organisations.

On Thursday, Facebook blocked content from groups including Science & Technology Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Science Media Centre, the Australian Science Teachers Association, Professionals Australia, The Royal Institution of Australia, and Research Australia.

These organisations share valued and peer-reviewed science insights and Australia’s deep scientific knowledge.

The changes also affected state health departments including those in South Australia and Queensland and some emergency services feeds.

The move comes as part of Facebook’s push back against Australia’s new media code which was passed by the lower house last night and now awaits Senate approval.

Australian Academy of Science Chief Executive Officer Anna-Maria Arabia said Facebook cannot reduce misinformation while blocking sources of trustworthy scientific information. 

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the move to block content from science organisations risked denying the public access to important scientific and health information.

“For Facebook to block access to the feeds of trusted science and health organisations in Australia during a pandemic and bushfire season is irresponsible and dangerous.”

“At a time when the company is taking steps to tackle misinformation on its platform, it’s concerning it has chosen to silence some of this nation’s leading scientific voices.”

Dr Susannah Eliott, CEO of the Australian Science Media Centre said: “We are very concerned about the impact of this action on the quality of information reaching the public. Facebook is used by many non-news organisations to distribute evidence-based information to the public on critical issues such as vaccines, pandemics, climate change and extreme weather events. Social media platforms have a responsibility to enable the sharing of accurate information on these key topics and not increase the prominence of misinformation.”

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science

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