‘Some algorithm is glitching,’ thought the head of Eating Disorders Victoria on Thursday morning. Why else would the group’s Facebook page be stripped of content?

Content on pro-vaccination group Light For Rileys Immunisation Foundation of Australia page had been scrubbed by Facebook, and still appeared blank early on Thursday afternoon.
Pages for the Australian Liberty Alliance and Rebel News Australia both of whom post content critical of Victorias lockdown appeared unaffected, despite describing themselves as news and media websites.
The Facebook page of Melbournes Royal Childrens Hospital has been stripped of content.Credit:Getty Images
The Australian Defence League and the Australian Patriot Party also appear to have been untouched, as was the Great Australian Party which just nominated former celebrity chef Pete Evans as a senate candidate.
But the ban hit several community organisations, including the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.
Facebooks actions today were racist. They must immediately remove all bans and put more thought into their future political actions, said Nerita Waight, the services chief executive.
Aboriginal people are always sacrificed in these political battles and all sides should feel great shame and guarantee to ensure the voices of Aboriginal people and marginalised groups are properly involved in the future.
The Human Rights Law Centre, which is based in Melbourne, slammed Facebooks actions.
For years Facebook has made huge profits by amplifying conspiracy theories and disinformation. Now its blocking access to vital information for an entire country in the middle of a pandemic, said Daniel Webb, the centres legal director.
Amplifying falsehoods and suppressing facts is poison for democracy.
Facebook must lift its news blackout. And our government and big digital platforms must urgently deal with the issue of disinformation online.
Liberty Victoria echoed the sentiment. Its preposterous that Facebook has left in place accounts which share false information or conspiracy theories, while blocking vital health, government and emergency service sites, the organisation said in a statement.
Bambi Gordon, chief executive of Neighbourhood Watch Victoria, woke up to discover all her organisations posts vanished.
Bambi Gordon, chief executive of Neighbourhood Watch Victoria, woke on Thursday morning to discover all her organisations posts vanished.
It went down pretty much first thing. No warning from Facebook. We certainly did not believe, as we are not a media organisation, it would have anything to do with us, she said.
We have lost the main Facebook page for Neighbourhood Watch Victoria.
We have noticed a lot of our smaller groups, associated with a suburb or town, are still there. But were not sure they are going to remain. And we cannot get any information from Facebook so we can start to plan for what the new social media landscape is going to look like.
We have got approximately 130,000 followers across all our Facebook pages. We use it to connect neighbours, connect communities, make sure people can talk to each other. Thats not going to be easily or quickly replaced.
It definitely is a safety and crime prevention issue.
The Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation was also affected by the change, its posts remaining wiped as of 5pm Thursday. Were not a news site we post tribute memorials to fallen Victorian police officers, said the foundations community engagement manager Jenny Davis. Its a vital communication tool for us, and for a lot of charities and I believe there are a lot of charities caught up in this.
Melbourne-based Save the Children Australia also saw its page, with about 160,000 supporters, goafety regulator tells Uber Eats and HungryPanda to shape up after deaths down. Every minute that our page is down is another minute our message isnt getting out about the needs of children, said chief executive Paul Ronalds.
Belinda Caldwell, chief executive of Eating Disorders Victoria, said she had no idea why we were caught up in the whole thing. Some algorithm is glitching, I guess.
This is a key means of communication for our community. We had lots of stuff on it. We post links to resources, let people know whats happening. Facebook is absolutely one of our key social media platforms.
The AFLs Facebook page appears unaffected, but the AFL Womens page has had its posts removed.
Melbournes Royal Childrens Hospital, St Vincents Hospital and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have all been stripped of their content.
A St Vincents Health Australia spokesman said it was extremely concerning to discover the Melbourne hospital had been blocked, particularly with Australia on the eve of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. We hope this situation can be rectified very shortly, the organisation said.
Facebook pages for the Burnet Institute and the Medical Journal of Australia, as well as literary journals Overland and Meanjin, all remained down on Thursday evening.
In an emailed statement, Burnet director and chief executive Professor Brendan Crabb said: Any sudden change to quality health information flow at any time, but most especially in the midst of a health crisis, is deeply unethical and damaging. It should be met with the sustained contempt it deserves.
The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, which is doing key research on COVID-19, also saw its Facebook page stripped of posts.
Facebook shutting down information sharing on health and medical research pages is incredibly troubling, particularly now during a pandemic, said institute director Sharon Lewin.
We hope Facebook will review organisations like the Doherty Institutes presence on the platform as ours, and many others affected by this, play a crucial role in distributing trusted, evidence-driven information, Professor Lewin said.
We need to increase access to trusted information sources, not take it away.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the bans needed to be lifted straight away.
I am deeply and profoundly concerned that Facebook would block access to health, COVID or vaccine-related vital public information. This must be addressed immediately, he said.
Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said blocking news organisations and health pages was a huge issue just days out from the start of the national vaccination program.
Dr Khorshid said Facebook was using its market power to bully the Australian government, and in doing so putting the health of Australians at risk.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley demanded the return of health-based news reports.
This is not a time for credible, reliable information to be taken away from the community, he said.
Were going to need those systems of engagements on all platforms particularly as we move into vaccinations.
Anything that removes credible and reliable information sources in the midst of a global pandemic is beyond regrettable and needs to be fixed.
Facebook blamed the government for its wide-ranging bans. In a statement it said that, as the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.
However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted.
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Liam is The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald’s science reporter
Rachel Clun is a federal political reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, covering health.