Meta is facing severe criticism for its policy of blocking news content in Canada while wildfires rage in British Columbia.
“Right now, while wildfires are causing evacuations in the NWT and endangering lives, Meta is blocking news about them on Facebook and Instagram,” tweeted Chris Bittle, Liberal MP for St. Catharines, Ontario. “They did this in Australia, and it made dangerous situations worse. Meta’s actions to block news are reckless and irresponsible.”
Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez commented,“People don’t have access to information—information that is absolutely crucial,” according to DH Canada.
And, residents of Yellowknife, who have been ordered to evacuate, complained that lack of accurate information was difficult to access, given the current blocking of news links on Facebook and Instagram, The Guardian reports.
Overall, roughly 30,000 households have been ordered to evacuate in the province, BBC reports.
The threatened news blockage was instituted earlier this month in response to passage of The Canada Online News Act, C-18. The law requires that tech platforms compensate publishers for linking to their content.
Meta stated, “People in Canada will no longer be able to view or share news content on Facebook and Instagram, including news articles and content posted by news outlets.”
But Meta maintains, “In times of crisis, Safety Check allows people to request support, check on loved ones and access updates from reputable source,” according to The Guardian.
It adds, “People in Canada can continue to use our technologies to connect with their communities and access reputable information, including content from official government agencies, emergency services and non-governmental organizations.”
Meanwhile, U.S. publishers are complaining of 30% to 40% drops in Meta-generated referral traffics as Meta contends that news makes up less than 3% Facebook Feeds that contain links to news content, CNN reports.