Wildfires have spread in Canada’s northwest and British Columbia provinces. Thousands of people left their homes to save their lives. In this situation, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has complained that popular social media platforms like Facebook are giving priority to business profits before human lives. Basically, he has expressed his anger against Facebook for blocking news content.
In a press conference last Monday (August 21), Trudeau said that Canadians spend a lot of time online, on social media and Facebook. As a result, the news agencies can reach the people with the latest news through them. But it’s unthinkable that a company like Facebook would choose business profits instead of ensuring that.
The controversy started last June. That month, Canada’s legislature approved a new law called the Online News Act. Under the law, technology companies will have to pay news organizations to publish news content on their platforms.
But social media giants like Meta didn’t take kindly to that law. Since then they started blocking news content on Facebook and Instagram in Canada.
A spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company Meta said, “Due to new laws in Canada, we are forced to block access to news content.” But our technologies are operational.
He pointed to the Mater Safety Check Tool and said that as of last Friday, more than 45,000 people in Canada have identified themselves as safe from wildfires.
There is a debate going on not only in Canada, but around the world about the relationship between news organizations and social media platforms regarding news content, who will get how much profit.
The new Canadian law misrepresents the value news outlets receive when using our platforms, Meta said in a blog post.
But Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has complained that Facebook’s move to block news content is harmful to democracy in the long run. But in an emergency right now, where breaking news is more important than ever, Facebook is putting business profits ahead of people’s safety.