The Great Face Off – The Day Social Media Became Antisocial

By Doug Weller

On 18 February 2021, Facebook pulled the plug.

Australian Facebookers woke to find they could not access or share Australian news via Facebook.

Unfortunately, organisations including some government departments, charities, community sites and others were bundled into the ‘news’ category and were also blocked.

News consumers could still access news directly in other ways, such as via the news organisation’s websites.

The solution for others – especially many community Facebook sites – wasn’t as easy.

Some of these organisations rely purely on their Facebook site to connect with their clients and audiences.

The stoush was all over the Australian Government’s proposed media laws forcing Facebook to pay for Australian news content shared on that platform.

Facebook said, “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.”

The bunfight was resolved a week later.

In the meantime, Facebook apologised for the situation, claiming the impact on government departments, charities and community sites etc was an unintended consequence of the news ban.

It moved to restore the ‘non media‘ sites, but some were blocked for hours or days.

For those organisations which over the past 17 years have slowly built their communications with customers and clients exclusively via their Facebook sites, it was all quite a shock.

Suddenly they realised that there was no Plan B. No Facebook, no connection.

People who needed their services had nowhere to turn.

Plan B

So, what should a Plan B look like?

A website, where you have a lot more control, is a good start – but it can be expensive to setup and maintain.

Direct mail is also good, but again very costly.

Have a presence on more than one social media site and ensure your customers and clients know their options if one site is blocked or not accessible.

A database of phone numbers is a great backup so you can quickly text or call clients and customers and direct them to a phone number or email.

It is also very important to have a copy of the material you post on social media sites. Can you access your material, information and messages if that site goes down?

The Facebook ban highlighted the danger of relying solely on one social media platform to reach your target audience.

The disruption was short-lived. That was no consolation for those who urgently needed help from organisations, such those that provide help from domestic violence when the site was down.

Without even really noticing it, we have handed enormous power to Facebook and other social media platforms.

Some organisations have become too reliant on them, basing their audience communications around ‘free’ social media sites.

Social media is a great way to connect, but you must have a Plan B in place if the platform, intentionally or not, pulls the plug.

Make sure your audience can access your services and receive your messages if your main social media platform is not available.

Fortunately, the Australian Government and Facebook found a resolution in this case.

But what about next time?

Have your Plan B ready to roll and test it to make sure it works.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is general. It is not a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

To get the most from your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our training programs and media consultancy services.

All Corporate Media Services training courses can be conducted online.

For information and bookings please call 1300 737 913 or Director, Doug Weller 0412 298 905.


Facebook’s botched Australia news ban hits health departments, charities and its own pages

Facebook to ban Australian users from sharing news content

Facebook agrees to reverse news ban on Australian sites after striking deal with federal government (

Obama speaking

Tan Suit Gets In Way Of What Obama Has To Say

By Corporate Media Services

Obama’s ‘suitgate’ scandal rocked the world! Well, it got a good run in the media anyway.obama tan suit

In a shocking back flip on his policy of only wearing navy, grey and black suits, President Obama had the nerve to wear a tan suit…the cheek of him.

Some people were horrified, a social media storm erupted and his media messages paled beyond a shade of beige as they were lost in the controversy over his outfit.

Reasons for the outrage over Obama’s tan suit varied.

Timing was a key factor as its casualness was considered inappropriate for delivering serious, hard hitting foreign policy messages.

Some thought it was too informal and disrespectful to victims of recent serious incidents and terror related atrocities.

It generated a gender equality debate about the fashion criticism of women  compared with men in the media.

Obama’s famous election rally cry “Yes We Can” morphed into “Yes We Tan”.

Then comedians got in on the act.

Bad day for tan suit

obama seinfeld suit

In all of the noise about the tan suit Obama’s important messages were overshadowed.

Huffpost tan suit tweet

Obama is a top class media performer. He delivers his messages like a pro and whether in a suit or an open neck shirt, he usually looks sharp.

You wouldn’t think a change of suit colour would be a big deal. It’s just a different colour.

When you’re high profile the reaction to what you wear can be a very big deal. Just ask Former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who copped endless criticism for her outfit choices.

You’re entitled to wear what you want during media interviews but if you present in a different or unusual way there may be a major reaction that eclipses your message.

Media audiences have expectations and get used to you looking a certain way. It becomes part of your personal brand.

Think carefully before you make major changes, especially prior to making major announcements.

You don’t want attention taken away from your messages because of a new look.

As superficial as it seems, it needs to be taken into account.

It says a lot about how ridiculous we’ve become about presentation but it’s something you need to be conscious of if you want your media messages to hit the mark.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913


Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 1 Edition 3

Volume 1, Edition 3 – 13 October 2010

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsNew Media – Old Rules – How one quick quip can destroy your reputation

More than 30 years ago when I began my journalism career, we didn’t have Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the other new communication tools that we have today.

But we did have senior editors who gave good advice. Some of that advice has lasted a lifetime for me. It should be taken on board by those using new media in 2010.

I can remember on my second day as a cub reporter, an editor said (or screamed), “If in doubt, leave out”.

Throughout the years, I have passed those words on to younger journalists and I now find myself giving the same advice to clients who need to deal with media situations.

That advice is even more relevant now as we all try to grapple with and use social media and social networking.

We began talking about social media and social networking in our media training courses when it became clear that clients could use these tools to extend their media reach, but more importantly, when it was clear the damage that could be caused when not controlled.

Every day, the list of those being hammered by the misuse of new media grows:

. A Professor from the University in Pennsylvania sacked after making “light-hearted” comments about looking for a hit man after a bad day in the classroom

  • Two employees at Domino’s Pizza sacked after doing “vile things” to food and posting it on YouTube
  • An Age newspaper journalist recently sacked for sending out “offensive comments” on Twitter during the Logies
  • Not only have these incidences impacted on the employees, they have impacted on the reputations of their now former employers.

While new and social media expands our ability to reach new and larger audiences, it needs to be treated with extreme caution. The absence of journalists or interviewers can lead people to relax to the point where little thought is put into what is being posted or broadcast.

The problem is compounded by the ability of these networks to go “viral” and send the information rapidly to hundreds if not millions of people. Journalists are also using sites like Facebook for research as hot issues arise.

While on Facebook, don’t think that limiting the number of people who can access your Facebook site is a safeguard – it’s NOT. Text and pictures can be copied in a moment and spread far and wide and you have no control over this.

There is one simple test for new and social media postings for you and your team.

Would you be happy to see your new and social media offerings on the front page of the newspaper or on the TV news?

If so, go ahead and hit send.

If not, think about it.

As my crabby old editor said more than 30 years ago – “If in doubt, leave out”.

Make an enquiry now or call us on 1300 737 913 or +61 412 298 905