Meta’s irresponsible stance as Canada burns
Meta has cut off access to news content in Facebook and Instagram in Canada since 1 August in a show of discontent with the passage of Bill C-18, which would force it to pay media publishers. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns this irresponsible behaviour as wildfires spread across Canada, making access to news and information all the more necessary for its citizens.
The California-based social media giant had threatened to block news content from its platforms if the Canadian parliament passed Bill C-18, under which leading social media platforms would have to compensate news publishers for the content they disseminate. The Canadian parliament was not intimidated and passed the law in June. As a result, articles from Canadian press titles such as La Presse or Radio Canada are no longer visible on Facebook and Instagram for Internet users located in Canada. According to tests carried out by RSF, this block even applies to foreign press titles such as Le Monde.
Although huge wildfires are devastating Canada and the public have a vital need for information, Meta has refused to back down. RSF deplores the tech giant’s decision to stick to its original position although, in practice, the law will not take effect until December. Meta is using the tragic current situation to put additional pressure on the Canadian government with the aim of defending its business interests.
“Meta is reacting in an irresponsible manner and is defending its interests without any consideration for what is happening in the real world. Canada is being hit by natural disasters. This is a crisis situation in which access to information is indispensable. Meta’s attitude is based on the calculations of an extremely wealthy company that refuses to share profits. We urge it to end this and to finally behave in a responsible manner.
Head of RSF’s Tech Desk
In a statement by its spokesman, Andy Stone, Meta let it be known that it does not intend to change its position. But that did not prevent the company from claiming, in the same statement, that it continues to connect Canadians with loved-ones and with... information. A poor choice of words in this context.
Instead of using fancy rhetoric to say that nothing will change, RSF calls on Meta to take a more respectable and responsible stance. Helping Canadian citizens to find out what is happening in their country is more urgent than sticking to radical positions with regard to a law that is not yet being applied.