Get the app: Roland suggests there’s better ways of accessing importing information, like the weather, rather than via Facebook. Image: SUPPLIED

From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 7 March

March 7, 2021 BY

Civilisation as we know it will not cease to exist if we do not have Facebook in our lives.  Be assured: the world will continue to spin on its axis!

THE notion is dumbfounding, not to mention too bloody ridiculous. It seems the entire world has gone mad.

Since when did Facebook become the official quasi-emergency services website for all of Australia? That prerogative belongs, surely, to the government. Why are we dependent on social media to keep us safe in an emergency; to tell us what we should, nor should, not be doing?

The brouhaha which has surrounded the Facebook decision to remove, and latterly re-instate, various news outlets from its site is too silly. One commentator suggested, ludicrously, the impact of the decision would have tectonic consequences. Really, and for whom?

If you want accurate, up-to-date information, particularly regarding COVID, then go to the official websites. Type: ‘COVID website’ into your search engine and hey, presto!! There it is. It is not rocket science. We are not splitting the atom. Never, have I resorted to Facebook for any certified information.

That people choose to elicit news from Facebook comes as a total surprise. One is reminded of the ubiquitous sign once seen in butcher shops across the country: We have an arrangement with the bank. They don’t sell sausages; we don’t cash cheques!

Mr Zuckerberg’s Facebook is a privately-owned, gross-profit-making organisation (in 2020 his estimated wealth was $105 billion), the genesis of which remains clouded in fact and fiction, and which, along with Twitter and Instagram et al, has provided the misinformed, the ill-informed, and every other bloody galah with a conspiracy theory, a platform and a megaphone to the world. While I cannot claim to be a tech-head, I am certainly not a luddite. I am, for the most part, computer literate. I make every endeavour to keep abreast of the latest developments which affect my use of the internet.

Perhaps there is more complex reasoning, but the answer to the Facebook dilemma seems simple: If they do not exist already, then both Federal and state governments should, immediately, to set-up a national emergency and information departments responsible for building websites which will allow them to start spruiking their wares, rather like the British Ministry of Information during the Second World War. It was the central government department responsible for publicity and propaganda. It worked remarkably well – even without the involvement of the not-yet-conceived Facebook!

There is much merit to be found in the tried-and-true methods which previously have served us well. While it may, momentarily, seem anachronistic, but there is a still a very real place in the information proliferation process for newspapers, radio, and television involvement, and sans the support of Facebook. Government support of regional radio and print media is vital. They are the voice of the community, and should, by definition, be the first port-of-call link in the vital information dissemination chain.

As the Prime Minister suggested: Mr Zuckerberg’s Facebook may, for some people, have changed the world, but he is not running the galaxy. We are not play-acting a 1950s science fiction fantasy.

If Mr Zuckerberg wants, metaphorically, to throw his dress over his head; toss his toys out of the pram; spit the dummy; or take his bat and ball and go home, then who are we to argue? He must do what he thinks is best for his money-making empire; conversely, the government must do what is best for the Commonwealth. From where I sit it seems like a simple case of: ‘Here’s your hat what’s your hurry, and don’t the let the door hit your fat backside as you are leaving?’

Bizarrely, there was some concern expressed about obtaining reliable weather information. The answer is obvious: download the Bureau of Meteorology app. Even I can do that!

Roland can be heard with Brett Macdonald each Monday at 10.45am on 3BA and you can contact him via [email protected] and also Facebook!