Australia's Biggest Farming Community Shut Down By Facebook
A Facebook group that connects thousands of drought-affected Australians has been temporarily shut down, but it's unclear why.
NSW farmer Cassandra McLaren set up the 'One Day Closer To Rain (Drought)' Facebook group last May to offer support to drought-stricken farmers.
"It was a way for farmers to know they weren't alone, a place for them to reach out to others for help or advice for any situation they're facing," McLaren told 10 daily.
The group is public but requires users to become approved members. Before the shutdown, ODCTR had 45,000 members.
McLaren said the online group was the largest of its kind in Australia.
But she said she was "shocked, horrified and stressed" after she attempted to log on to the page on Tuesday morning to find it had been shut down.
When 10 daily tried to view the page on Tuesday, it came up blank with the message 'sorry, this content isn't available right now'.
McLaren said she requested Facebook review the decision.
She said she received a message from the social media giant to say the page had been disabled claiming that it did not "follow (Facebook's) community standards on regulated goods".
The platform informed her that an admin would review the decision and would update McLaren once a decision was made.
McClaren said she has not heard anything more from Facebook. She wants to know how the page breached the platform's rules.
"We're not a sales page; we're a discussion group. We block, mute and delete any posts that may offend," she said.
Now, McClaren has concerns for the page's community as she is forced to wait for a response.
"This page is vital. We can't afford to sit it out, we don't know how long it will be," she said.
10 daily has contacted Facebook for comment.
McLaren and her husband own property at Merriwa in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW.
Last May, the couple were forced to sell some of their stock. At the time she told Studio 10 that the weight of that decision had brought her to tears and prompted her to set up the Facebook group.
The farmers' group has since become a crucial support platform as drought conditions persist across the country.
McLaren said she feels as though she has been cut off from thousands of people who have become family.
Our catch cry is you're not alone, but today we feel alone.
The decision has prompted an outcry from members on a second Facebook page McClaren set up to help rural Australians sell their homemade crafts.
"How ridiculous," one woman wrote.
"It's a community group with the best intentions."
Another woman said the page had helped farmers who are facing "unbelievable hardships".
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