Trudeau criticizes Facebook for blocking news during Canadian wildfires

Evacuees from the wildfire-affected regions have voiced concerns, citing difficulties in sharing critical updates due to the news blackout.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has criticized Facebook for prioritizing profits over people’s safety, as the platform blocked news content during devastating wildfires in Canada. This move by Facebook was in response to a Canadian law that requires it to share profits with news outlets.

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has labeled the law ‘fundamentally flawed.’ The ban has been in place since August 1, following the passage of the online news bill in Canada’s parliament.

Evacuees affected by the wildfires have expressed concerns about the ban’s impact on sharing critical information among themselves, as a significant percentage of Canadians use the platform for news. Canadian officials, including Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge, have condemned Meta’s decision, stating that it blocks essential information despite the law not being in effect yet.

Meta argues that the law forces them to end access to news content to comply. The company has introduced a ‘Safety Check’ feature to help evacuees mark themselves safe and access reliable information.

Why does it matter?

With a substantial percentage of Canadians relying on Facebook for news, the platform’s decision to block news content raises questions about its responsibility as a source of information during critical situations. Additionally, this defiance of the online news law demonstrates the complexities of enforcing regulations on global tech entities. It raises questions about the efficacy of such regulations in achieving their intended goals.