Former Australian Facebook CEO Calls on Users to Delete the App After News Ban

February 19, 2021 Updated: February 19, 2021

The former head of Facebook’s operations in Australia—coming after Facebook moved to block Australian news sharing— stated that users should simply delete the app from their phones to send a message to the firm.

Stephen Scheeler, the former CEO of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, told The Australian that the social media giant’s decision “looks and feels ugly,” adding: “It shouldn’t have happened. But unfortunately, it did.”

“But there’s no good answers … But at Facebook nobody ever loses their jobs,” he said, adding that users should simply delete the app from their phone.

Scheeler went a step further, saying that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives care “too much about the money and the power” that comes with running a massive, global company. It’s “not about the good” anymore, he said.

“Imagine if a Chinese company for example had done this, we would be up in arms. All Australians should be quite alarmed by this,” he added.

This week, Facebook blocked all Australian news content on its service over proposed legislation requiring it and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay fees to Australian publishers for news links. The firm said news makes up less than 4 percent of content people see on the platform but contended that it helped Australian publishers generate about $315 million last year.

On Thursday, Australians noted that large numbers of non-news pages in Australia were banned as Facebook tried to remove content from its platform. That included charities, government pages, public services, small businesses, and many other pages that don’t necessarily share news content.

“The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” a Facebook spokesman told CNBC about the bans. “As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted. However, we will reverse any pages that are inadvertently impacted.”

Saying that he spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the U.K.’s Boris Johnson, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told media outlets that “there is a lot of world interest in what Australia is doing.”

“The dominance of a handful of gatekeepers online has wreaked havoc on competition, suppressed innovation, and weakened entrepreneurship,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) statement Friday. He pledged to pass bills to “restore competition online.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.