The former chief executive officer for Facebook Australia and New Zealand, Stephen Scheeler, said the social media giant has pulled out a big gun and fired on Australia by banning users from viewing and sharing news on the platform.
“Clearly Facebook believes this issue in Australia is a big enough battle they have to win so in order to scare the horses we’ve seen a big gun come out and get fired,” he said.
Scheeler thinks Facebook is “not being a good corporate citizen” and going beyond normal negotiations, which has affected services that give Australians very practical and essential information.
“If this was a Chinese company not an American one doing the same thing we’d be up in arms saying it was an attack on democracy,” Scheeler told Sky News.
Scheeler continued, saying Facebook feels not enough value is being put to the organisation with the new bargaining code by the Australian government. Therefore, the decision was to pull down news altogether to not be covered by the code.
“I think Facebook may eventually regret this day,” he said.
Major news outlets including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Age, and The Epoch Times, discovered on Thursday morning that the tech giant had implemented an outright ban across their Facebook pages.
However, a swathe of non-media related Facebook pages were also caught in the crossfire, with websites for the state Queensland Health Department, the national Bureau of Meteorology, members of Parliament, and even non-profit organisations such as 1800 Respect and trade unions saw their pages wiped.
“This throws a monkey wrench into Australian democracy,” Scheeler said.
“This is more than just your news feed not having your favourite news; this is drilling into the heart of how we share information in a free democracy like Australia.”
Daniel Y. Teng has contributed to this article.