RACQ LifeFlight has been caught up in Facebook’s move to ban all news content posted by users or publishers.
On Thursday, the aeromedical charity’s main Facebook page was completely wiped and it’s not yet clear if it will be restored, given it produces and publish its own news stories.
The tech giant’s controversial move followed the passing through the House of Representatives of a bill proposing that social media companies pay publishers for using their content.
“We are imploring Facebook to reverse the decision to shut down our page,” said the business in a statement. “We have been corresponding with Facebook throughout the day, explaining the important role of our page and asking for it to be restored, but unfortunately the matter has still not been resolved.
“RACQ LifeFlight Rescue is a vital aeromedical retrieval service, which people around Queensland – and the world – rely on, for lifesaving medical evacuations and treatment.
“RACQ LifeFlight Rescue’s Facebook page is primarily used to raise awareness for our service, as we rely heavily on community contributions.
“We have significant reach on Facebook and our only involvement in this issue is sharing our own good news stories about the lifesaving work our helicopter and jet crews have performed.
“Of course, we have a website and other social media platforms, but our Facebook audience is strongest and resonates with our supporters.”
Facebook’s move saw many other groups apparently caught in the middle of the ban, including the Bureau of Meteorology, SA Health, ACT Health and Queensland Health. It’s not known whether LifeFlight’s cancellation will be reversed, given they do produce and publish news stories.
Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand managing director William Easton said Facebook removed news because the proposed law “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content”.
“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter,” Easton said.
“Unfortunately, this means people and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook.”
In January, Australian Aviation reported how RACQ LifeFlight’s Townsville team alone provided lifesaving care to 341 people in 2020 – a near 50 per cent increase from 2019.
Overall, the aeromedical charity completed 486 “critical missions” across the state.
“Townsville has become a lot busier, it means that we do a lot of the long distance, high acuity jobs,” said rescue flight nurse Michelle Black.
The large increase in activity corresponds with the organisation significantly upgrading its aircraft.