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Ex-Facebook CEO Calls On Users to 'Delete the App' to Fight Censorship

Stephen Scheeler responds as social media giants blocks news in Australia

 on 19th February 2021 @ 12.00pm
ex ceo stephen scheeler slammed mark zuckerberg s decision to block news on facebook © press
Ex-CEO Stephen Scheeler slammed Mark Zuckerberg's decision to block news on Facebook

The former CEO of Facebook has called on users around the world to "delete the app" in protest of the social media giant's Communist China-like censorship efforts.

Stephen Scheeler, former Facebook Australia and New Zealand chief executive officer, slammed CEO Mark Zuckerberg's "sad" decision to block news in Australia.

The American Big Tech company has infuriated Australians after blocking them from reading and sharing news reports on the platform.

The move came in response to a world-first law passed by Australian lawmakers to make tech giants pay media companies for the content they use.

From Thursday, when Australians tried to view news accounts on Facebook, they were met with a message saying "no posts" were available.

Even overseas news was also hidden from users. 

scheeler said facebook s communist china like censorship campaign  looks and feels ugly © press
Scheeler said Facebook's Communist China-like censorship campaign 'looks and feels ugly'

Scheeler said Facebook's controversial move "looks and feels ugly" and blasted founder Mark Zuckerberg's motivations.

"It shouldn't have happened," he told The Australian.

"But unfortunately it did. But there's no good answers.

"If you're Rio Tinto and you blow up an Aboriginal sacred site, there are consequences, people lose their jobs.

"But at Facebook, nobody ever loses their jobs.

"I'm a proud ex-Facebooker, but over the years I get more and more exasperated.

"For Facebook and Mark it's too much about the money and the power, and not about the good.

"Imagine if a Chinese company for example had done this, we would be up in arms.

"All Australians should be quite alarmed by this."

Mr. Scheeler, who resigned from Facebook in 2017, encouraged Australians to delete the app to send a stern message to the company.

"I'm sad for Facebook in a way, but if you wanted a glaring example of why Facebook needs more regulation, this is it," he said.

Scheeler, who has since opened his own consultancy firm, warns Facebook is now more powerful than the world's greatest governments.

"There's no ballot box where you can vote against Mark Zuckerberg," he said.

"And in fact, even if you're a Facebook shareholder, your vote carries no weight." 

On Thursday, Australians woke up to find large swaths of non-news pages in Australia banned as Facebook attempted to remove news content from its platform, according to The New York Post.

Dozens of Facebook pages belonging to charities, small businesses, public services, and governments were scrubbed from the site, raising concerns that people could miss out on vital information.

For instance, Save the Children Australia, the Hobart Women’s Shelter, and the Kids Cancer Project had their pages pulled from the platform, as did the Brisbane City Council, South Australia Health, and the Bureau of Meteorology.

By the evening local time on Thursday, some of these pages had already been restored.

In a move that has caused some amusement, Facebook also blocked its own page in Australia.

“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 rep told CNBC Thursday.

users who try to view or share news content in australian are greeted with a warning message © press
Users who try to view or share news content in Australian are greeted with a warning message

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Facebook’s actions were “as arrogant as they were disappointing.”

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said at a media briefing Thursday that Facebook was “wrong” to move in the way it has.

“Facebook’s actions were unnecessary,” he said.

“They were heavy-handed and they will damage its reputation here in Australia.”

“Their decision to block Australians’ access to government sites — be they about support through the pandemic, mental health, emergency services, the Bureau of Meteorology — were completely unrelated to the media code, which is yet to pass through the Senate,” Frydenberg added.

Facebook’s decision to block the news came the same day that rival Google, which was also subject to the same law, announced it struck a multiyear deal with News Corp., the largest owner of newspapers by circulation in Australia, to pay for its content.

News Corp. is also the parent company of the New York Post and publishes the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and MarketWatch in addition to numerous newspapers overseas.

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