Trudeau Slams Meta for Blocking News During Wildfires

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Trudeau Slams Meta for Blocking News During Wildfires

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has blasted Facebook parent company Meta for not showing news on its platforms as wildfires continue.

The emergency is forcing thousands to evacuate their homes and Trudeau believes the company is prioritizing profit over safety.

News blocked by Meta during wildfires

Fires have been raging over Canada, pushing tens of thousands of citizens from their homes. 

More than 200 fires are burning in the Northwest Territories and over 30,000 people have been under evacuation in British Columbia alone.

However, during the state of emergency, Facebook and Instagram users have still been unable to access and share news with their followers.

The reason behind this is Meta restricting news in Canada as a reaction to the new laws requiring tech companies to pay publishers.

The company said it will continue to stand by its decision to do so. It reminded users they can still use the platforms to connect with their communities and access information the authorities share.

Meta also announced it’s activating the Safety Check function that helps users notify their friends and family they’re okay.

The only things they cannot share are news articles and audio/video content media outlets post.

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said that up-to-date information is now more important than ever.

He accused Meta of prioritizing profit over safety in an emergency situation. Trudeau added that people are worried about their homes and communities and that Meta isn’t allowing them to access the most recent updates.

British Columbia Premier David Eby said that Meta not changing its stance during wildfires is unacceptable.

He said that while the company is most likely trying to make a point with the government, it should set it aside during the emergency to help people stay safe.

Eby added that many people in British Columbia rely on news on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the situation.

The background

Meta started blocking news in Canada after the country passed its Online News Act in June.

While only 5% of Canadians were affected at first, at the start of August, the company announced it will block news articles on its platforms for all users in the country.

Its stance was that the government is misrepresenting how valuable it is for media outlets to share their content. And it added that publishers benefit a lot from posting on networks such as Facebook and Instagram.

Media outlets have since asked the Competition Bureau to start investigating the move.

The tensions between Meta and the Canadian government are now continuing amidst wildfires.

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