Fake-book: Lies to now go unchallenged
Social media has long been fertile ground for the dangerous spread of misinformation and conspiracies, used by criminals to discredit law enforcement authorities, Russian and Chinese hackers to spread fake reports and anarchists to create havoc.
But these fringe views, scams and outright lies were offset by mainstream media reports, tasked with dispelling the wacky theories - until today.
"This is just the tip of a huge iceberg of deeply unethical issues that are baked into the dystopic business models of the social media giants," UNSW Associate Professor faculty of the Arts and Media Dr Emma Jane told News Corp Australia.
"Given Facebook's boycott, I would strongly urge as many Facebook users as possible to respond with their own boycotts by deleting their profiles - not just because of this particular development but because of a whole suite of serious issues.
"This includes platforms like Facebook putting journalism jobs and the future of quality journalism itself at risk," Dr Jane said.
She said she had deleted her own account four months ago as she found their unethical broken business model a concern and urged others to follow.
"The volume of non-news on Facebook and similar platforms is so pervasive and overwhelming I wonder how much of an impact this is actually going to have given that social media users already struggle to discern real from fake news
"Personally, I think Facebook's business model is so broken that it's not worth getting too hung up on the fact that it is not delivering a quality, ethical product," she said.
"Rather than tinkering around the edges trying to "fix" Facebook, I think this is an excellent opportunity for the producers and consumers of quality journalism to say something along the lines of 'thanks for yet again showing us your true colours, Facebook. We'll find other ways to fund and disseminate quality journalism and de-friend you in the meantime'."
Melbourne University's senior research fellow in digital ethics and cyber law in the School of Engineering Dr Kobi Leins had a similar reaction.
"Get off Facebook," she said was her message to users.
Dr Leins said it had reached its use by date and there could now be a public backlash.
She said it was exposed through public hearings Facebook used algorithms that preferenced extremist material which would now not be counter balanced with mainstream news.
"The history of this platform was to identify hot girls in college, lets remember what this is and they make a lot of money and they make their money from ads … that's what they are after not people reading the news, they are after the eyeballs that get the money for the ads so this is not a righteous undertaking, it's a private corporation with an enormous strive for profit."
An Essential Research poll in May last year found a percentage of Australians actually believed billionaire Bill Gates was behind COVID-19, deaths were exaggerated by governments and the media and the virus was not as dangerous as the public was being told as a ploy to get them vaccinated. Most of the people who believed this were aged 18-34 years.
Social media also ran hot with claims thousands of children had disappeared from Australia under the cover of COVID-19 lockdowns, spirited away nationally along previously undeclared network of tunnels below Sydney and Melbourne for the abuse pleasure of the nation's elite.
That the story gained credence at all was laughable but Facebook propelled the claim to the masses, hosting videos supposedly showing police and the military in rescue child rescue ops.
About the same time an Australian-Samoan so-called "influencer" Taylor Winterstein used Facebook to warn Pacific Islanders a move to vaccinate against measles (which had already claimed the lives of up to 40 children) was akin to a "Nazi Germany" program; ineffective and making the disease more deadly.
Facebook continued to promote her, with the spurious theories and supposed published "facts" growing her following.
Similarly, fallen celebrity chef Pete Evans' Facebook site was only taken down in December last year after attracting millions of followers for his falsehoods about COVID-19 and illegal pitch to sell a machine he claimed 'cured' the disease.
Originally published as Fake-book: Lies to now go unchallenged