OTTAWA, Ontario (LifeSiteNews) — Liberal politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have demanded that Meta allow news about wildfires to be shared on their platforms, despite the fact that it was their government’s own law that compelled Meta to block such content.
On August 21, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for banning Canadians from sharing stories about the various wildfires raging across the country – a move Meta only made to ensure they were in compliance with the Trudeau government’s recently passed Online News Act.
Trudeau claimed that “Facebook is putting corporate profits ahead of people’s safety” by continuing to ban Canadians from sharing news on their platforms rather than pay fees outlined in the Online News Act.
Similarly, Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez revealed he spoke to Meta last week about restoring news for Canadians, calling the ban “totally unacceptable.”
Some Canadians are complaining that Meta’s ban is preventing them from sharing important data regarding wildfires in the remote northern town of Yellowknife, and in the western province of British Columbia.
In early August, Meta began the process of permanently blocking all news for Canadians as the Trudeau government sought to compel Big Tech platforms to pay news sites for content shared on their platforms.
Under Meta’s new regulations, not only are Canadians blocked from seeing Canadian news, but content from other countries as well.
Since this decision, many Liberal politicians have demanded Meta revoke the ban, despite Meta being forced to implement the ban because of the strong-arm attempt by the Trudeau government.
Liberal Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge likewise condemned Meta, saying, “Meta’s reckless choice to block news before the Act is in force is hurting access to vital information on Facebook and Instagram.”
“We are calling on them to reinstate news sharing today for the safety of Canadians facing this emergency. We need more news right now, not less,” she continued.
Meta’s reckless choice to block news before the Act is in force is hurting access to vital information on Facebook and Instagram.
We are calling on them to reinstate news sharing today for the safety of Canadians facing this emergency. We need more news right now, not less. https://t.co/4X3xe61DCG
— Pascale St-Onge (@PascaleStOnge_) August 18, 2023
Liberal MP Chris Bittle called Meta’s actions ” reckless and irresponsible.”
“Right now, while wildfires are causing evacuations in the NWT and endangering lives, Meta is blocking news about them on Facebook and Instagram,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “They did this in Australia, and it made dangerous situations worse.”
Right now, while wildfires are causing evacuations in the NWT and endangering lives, Meta is blocking news about them on Facebook and Instagram.
They did this in Australia, and it made dangerous situations worse.
Meta’s actions to block news are reckless and irresponsible. https://t.co/4HJGCPvwMi
— Chris Bittle (@Chris_Bittle) August 17, 2023
Meta told the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation (CBC) that Facebook users could use the “Safety Check” feature, which allows users to share that they are safe in the case of a natural disaster or a crisis.
Current regulations also allow Canadians to access content from official government agencies, emergency services and non-governmental organizations on both Facebook and Instagram.
Meta explained that their platforms are not primarily used to share news and the company cannot afford to pay for news content posted on their platforms.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government have been facing major backlash against the Online News Act, known previously as Bill C-18, as Canadians become increasingly worried about their future ability to share information.
According to a recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute, the majority of Canadians are concerned about losing access to news due to heavy-handed measure.
Before the clashes with Big Tech, Bill C-18 was simply aiming to give the Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the power to determine which news content qualified for special privileges online, such as financial kick-backs from social media platforms where their content was shared.
This engendered fear in many independent media outlets as it would have been under the sole discretion of unelected government bureaucrats to determine which news sources are to be considered “a qualified Canadian journalism organization” and which are not.
Now, however, Canadians have lost access to news on popular platforms altogether, as the Trudeau government seems to be unwilling to correct course.