Outrage as One Day Closer to Rain page suddenly shut down

The One Day Closer to Rain (Drought) Facebook page has been shut down

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WORRIED: Merriwa farmer and One Day Closer to Rain Facebook page founder Cassandra McLaren.

WORRIED: Merriwa farmer and One Day Closer to Rain Facebook page founder Cassandra McLaren.

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Group members who rely on the page have been left in shock.

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A Facebook page that unites the city and the bush - and gives vital support to those battling the worst drought in living memory, has been suddenly shut down.

Facebook has removed the ever popular - and critically important, One Day Closer to Rain (Drought) page and told its founder Merriwa farmer Cassandra McLaren that the page has breached community standards.

"You group has been disabled. Your group has been disabled because it doesn't follow our community standards," Facebook wrote.

The news has left Ms McLaren, and the 45,000 members, without a platform to unite and support each other through this unrelenting drought.

The page has been supporting farmers, building a bridge between the city and the country and raising awareness about the severity of the drought since May 2018.

It is a public page where users are required to become members before they can interact.

Ms McLaren has been left questioning how a page, which has become a vital community service, could have breached Facebook's standards.

SHUT DOWN: Facebook has removed the One Day Closer to Rain Facebook page.

SHUT DOWN: Facebook has removed the One Day Closer to Rain Facebook page.

She has requested Facebook review its decision. A computer generated response said "your group has been disabled because it doesn't follow our community standards on regulated goods. An admin has requested that we review this decision, and we'll send you an update soon."

Facebook has been asked for comment.

"We can't just wait for it to be reviewed, we need an outcry to get this fixed," Ms McLaren said.

"Someone has to review this quickly, but there is no way of picking up the phone and contacting anybody at Facebook to tell them what has happened and explain why this page is so critical.

"On the post when I submitted the review it talked about selling animals and guns and stuff like that. We don't do any of that on that page. You put the word cattle on a post and they seem to think you are selling an animal."

With the festive season fast approaching Ms McLaren is worried the absence of the page will make drought-ravaged farmers and communities feel even more isolated.

"This page is vital for people who want to reach out in a safe environment and share their challenges and talk about what they are going through. Sometimes farmers post to ask for help from other farmers when they have a problem with an animal," she said.

"This is not just a page, it's a community, it's a place to get information, to find the links for drought assistance and information about what to do if they are feeling down."

Ms McLaren started the page after her daughter became upset when they had to sell some of the cattle because of the lack of feed.

This article first appeared in the Maitland Mercury

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