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Australia Freezes Covid-19 Vaccine Ads on Facebook

Sydney: The Australian Department of Health will no longer announce on Facebook the recent escalation of the government’s spat with the social media giant, which continues to block news content from its platform in the country.

The freeze comes as Australia begins promoting its new Covid-19 vaccination offering with a nearly $ 20 million media campaign aimed at boosting absorption and countering a flood of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Sunday that his department will continue to pay money to promote the vaccine campaign, not just on Facebook.

“All of our money will be used,” Hunt said. “We will continue to post on that particular channel, and we will not promote.”

The Australian government is locked in an acute dispute with Facebook over a law that would force digital platforms to compensate the media for online content.

Facebook strongly objects to the proposed legislation, and in response, on Thursday, banned nearly all Australian news on its platform

Several emergency services postings were also briefly suspended in blackouts, sparking a wave of outrage.

The law is expected to be completed in Parliament this week and it is believed that Facebook is still in talks with Australian media companies and the government to find a solution at the last minute.

Facebook’s dramatic response contrasts with Google’s response, which has struck deals with several media companies, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and The Guardian.

While Australians remained unable to share news articles or view media group pages on Facebook, the country began a vaccination campaign on Sunday.

Jane Malysiak, a resident of the elderly and a WWII survivor in her 80s, was ranked number one.

The prime minister and other senior officials were among a small group that received the first stabs, before expanding the program this week to include frontline health care workers and other officials.

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