Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has criticized Meta’s blocking of information sharing on his social media at a time when wildfires are ravaging large swathes of land in the country – and putting residents at risk.
For those in a hurry:
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized Meta’s blocking of information sharing on its social media;
- The criticism comes at a time when wildfires are ravaging large swathes of land in the country – and putting residents at risk;
- Trudeau said the company prioritizes business profits over enabling at-risk Canadians to receive up-to-date information;
- Meta said Canadians can use their resources to access reliable information (from government agencies and emergency services, for example).
Trudeau criticized Meta for prioritizing corporate profits over allowing local news organizations to provide up-to-date information to at-risk Canadians, according to the New York Times. He expressed disbelief that a company like Facebook could make such a decision under such dire circumstances.
The ban has frustrated Canadian officials trying to share information about evacuations in regions heavily reliant on social media for the dissemination and consumption of information – who remain in the dark in times of crisis.
Meta Block Review
Officials – including Pablo Rodriguez, Canada’s Transport Minister – called the Meta ban unacceptable, especially in an emergency situation where the release of accurate information is crucial.
To circumvent the Meta ban, the municipal government of Yellowknife, for example, encouraged citizens to search for wildfire updates on Google. Wildfires have prompted increased evacuation orders across western Canada and authorities have declared a state of emergency in Kelowna.
The ban on news link sharing for Facebook and Instagram users in Canada came into effect in June after the country enacted legislation allowing media outlets to negotiate payment for stories shared on tech platforms.
Communication objectives and vehicles
The dispute between Meta and regulators centers on media compensation for content shared on social media platforms.
Meta argues that media outlets benefit from increased readership and subscriptions through their exposure on their platforms, while regulators say social media companies should share in revenue generated from news articles.
Catherine Tait, CEO of CBC and Radio-Canada, highlighted the role platforms like Facebook play in providing crucial information, especially in an emergency. Tait asked Meta to lift the ban at least until the fire situation is resolved.
In response, Meta said Canadians can still use its features to access trusted information, including content from government agencies and emergency services.
However, critics say the ban makes it difficult to access essential information, especially in crisis situations.
This isn’t the first time Meta has faced backlash for blocking news sharing features. The company has faced similar opposition in Australia and California over its stance on compensating media outlets for their content.
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