Due to Facebook’s ham-fisted powerplay directed at the Australian government over a very poor piece of proposed legislation designed to line the pockets of selected media elite, the Facebook page for A Guide to Australian Bushranging has been blocked indefinitely. This means that new posts cannot be added and the three years worth of existing posts are no longer available to be read or viewed. Apparently a page about bushranger history counts as news media. Of course, this is not the only page to have suffered as such in this haphazard attempt at delivering a haymaker to the government. Official sources have suggested that non-news pages will be restored, yet they also specify that the sources restored will be pages relating to things like public health and the Bureau of Meteorology. If other pages are to be reinstated, very likely it will involve emailing the Facebook “team” and telling them they made an error, then they will review the decision. Given my previous experience dealing with Facebook behind the scenes I very much doubt they would be bringing my page back from purgatory.
So, the page is gone until further notice, meaning three years worth of work is effectively gone and my more than 1,700 followers are gone too. If it goes back up, great, but I’m not holding my breath. For all intents and purposes, the A Guide to Australian Bushranging Facebook page is dead. Sadly, this was a major point of contact for generating an audience that would then visit this website; now that point of contact is gone. The Bush Telegraph group is still functional, but with less than half the reach for posts due to the much smaller number of members.
The website is still up, evidenced by the fact that you are reading this post, and the Instagram account is still up (@australianbushranging). If you are interested in my work you can view it in those places. If the page is indeed gone for good, I won’t be starting a new one at this stage. It took three years to get to this point and I really can’t see the value in starting from scratch again, it’s just too much work to do all over again because of something I had no control over.
Since 2017, the Facebook page for A Guide to Australian Bushranging provided an important adjunct to the website. Here, short-form posts could introduce the audience to images, stories and historical figures relating to the content that this website addresses in a broader sense. It was also a hub where enthusiasts could keep up on the latest book releases, as well as movies, music, events and more. It was from the Facebook page that the charity art auction was held, which helped raise money for a range of worthy causes. For some people, it was the first time they had come across certain stories or images relating to bushranging history. Its absence will likely be felt by those dedicated followers that always engaged with the posts and helped to spread the word about what was there. A Guide to Australian Bushranging was a page that built a reputation for variety, respectful discussion, and rooting out some of histories forgotten tales of bush banditry. Gradually it even began to form a sense of community around it. Now the page lies dormant, its posts cleared away, it’s imagery vanished. It is like a digital headstone marking the place where the page once was. Perhaps one day the unexpected will occur and the page will be restored, but if politics continues to roll on the way it has, it is unlikely.
Such is life.
~ Aidan Phelan