Justin Trudeau condemns Facebook

Justin Trudeau criticised Facebook

OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticised Facebook for prioritizing corporate profits over public safety as the social media giant continues to block news content amidst raging wildfires in Canada’s Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

During a news conference on Monday, Trudeau expressed his frustration, stating, “It is so inconceivable that a company like Facebook is choosing to put corporate profits ahead of ensuring that local news organizations can get up-to-date information to Canadians, and reach them where Canadians spend a lot of their time; online, on social media, on Facebook.”

Over the weekend, approximately 60,000 people in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia evacuated due to wildfires. Trudeau described the impact of the wildfires as “apocalyptic.” He also commended Canadians for their support of evacuees.

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Earlier this month, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, started blocking news links from Facebook and Instagram in Canada. This was in response to newly passed legislation that mandates tech companies to negotiate payments to news organizations for hosting their content.

A spokesperson from Meta mentioned that despite the news content block, Canadians are using their platforms to access reputable information from official government agencies, emergency services, and non-governmental organizations.

The spokesperson highlighted Meta’s Safety Check tool, which over 45,000 people have used to mark themselves as safe. Additionally, the Yellowknife and Kelowna Crisis Response pages on Facebook have received visits from 300,000 people.

The Canadian legislation, approved in June, is referred to as Bill C-18 or the Online News Act. It aims to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace by regulating digital news intermediaries.

Meta has previously argued that the legislation misrepresents the value news outlets receive from using their platforms. The ongoing dispute between Facebook and the Canadian government reflects a broader global debate about the relationship between news organisations and social media platforms.

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