Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, of prioritizing profits over people’s safety during Canada’s devastating wildfire season. This criticism comes as Meta continues to block news content from Canada on its platforms due to a new law that requires tech giants to pay publishers for using their content online.
The wildfires in Canada have forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes and put cities like Yellowknife. Approximately 30,000 people are under evacuation orders in British Columbia alone.
Trudeau expressed his concern during a news conference in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island. Stated, “Right now, in an emergency situation where up-to-date local information is more important than ever, Facebook is putting corporate profits ahead of people’s safety.”
Justin Trudeau further emphasized his disbelief that a company like Facebook would prioritize profits over ensuring that local news organizations can provide Canadians with crucial and current information.
Government ministers had already called on Meta to lift its ban on Canadian news content. It applies to both local outlets and national media like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Google’s Intent to Remove Canadian News Links
However, Meta has stood by its decision, asserting in a statement related to the wildfires. That Canadians can still use Instagram and Facebook to connect with their communities and access reputable information from official government agencies. In addition to emergency services, and non-governmental organizations.
Under Meta’s ban, residents and visitors in Canada are unable to view or share news on social networks. Including articles, videos, and audio from outlets within and outside the country.
Meta is not the only tech giant taking such action in response to the new Canadian law. Google‘s parent company, Alphabet, has also indicated its intention to remove Canadian news links, although it has not yet implemented this change. The Online News Act, which was passed in late June following extensive debate, is set to take effect later this year.
Trudeau emphasized the importance of quality local journalism in a democracy, particularly during a time when people are deeply concerned about their homes, communities, and the high incidence of extreme events during the summer.
British Columbia Premier David Eby expressed his disappointment in Meta’s decision, calling it unacceptable that the company has not reversed its stance on blocking Canadian news from being shared online.