Trudeau says Meta news standoff ‘a test moment’ as wildfire season arrives

Canada’s dispute with Meta is a “test moment” for the country to stand against the social media giant that’s making billions off people, but taking no responsibility for the well-being of communities it profits from, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Trudeau made his comments in West Kelowna, one of several B.C. communities involved in evacuations of thousands of people last summer, while information about wildfires and escape routes were blocked on Meta’s Facebook platform.

He called Meta an “irresponsible web giant,” that had previously been making a huge profit sharing information from local journalists who worked hard to make sure people were properly informed.

“This is a test moment where countries are going to have to realize that either we stand up for journalism and the profession faced with internet giants that refuse to actually participate in it, or we bow down to them and allow them to make billions more dollars, while degrading the safety, well-being and communities that thrive in our democracy.”

Meta has blocked Canadian news from Facebook and Instagram over the federal government’s Online News Act, which seeks compensation for news outlets whose stories are used on the social media feeds.

Trudeau said he knows there are many people trying to figure out ways to keep everyone informed, especially in emergency situations, but countries need to stand up for journalism.

He noted his government had the same disagreement with Google, but the company “stepped up” with $100 million to make sure that local journalism was thriving.

B.C. Premier David Eby announced last month that the province had worked out an agreement with Meta and had received assurances that it would work with B.C. emergency officials to deliver and amplify public information in case of natural disasters such as wildfires.

Meta began blocking Canadian news content on its platforms in August just before fires swept through B.C.’s southern Interior.Trudeau was in West Kelowna last August, just days after a wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *