Canada Wildfire Evacuees Can’t Get News Media on Facebook and Instagram. Some Find Workarounds
It’s a terrifying situation to be in the path of a wildfire. Agnes Grandejambe experienced this firsthand when she had to flee her home in Yellowknife, located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, due to encroaching wildfires. Like many others in her situation, she turned to social media for updates and information about the fires. But to her surprise, she found that Canadian news outlets, including the only one she trusts, have been blocked on Facebook and Instagram.
A Ban on News Media
The ban on news media on social media platforms is a result of a dispute between Canadian news outlets and the national government. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced earlier this month that it would block news content in Canada in response to a new law that requires tech giants to pay publishers for using their content online. While Meta claims that people can still access reputable information from government agencies and emergency services, the ban has cut off access to local news outlets like Yellowknife-based Cabin Radio, which many residents rely on for crucial updates.
Workarounds and Undermining the Ban
Despite the ban, residents and supporters of local news outlets like Cabin Radio have found creative ways to share news and information. Cabin Radio, for example, has been sharing news through its website, and audience members have been taking screenshots of the articles and sharing them on Facebook and Instagram, ensuring that their friends and family can still access the information. This grassroots effort has played a crucial role in keeping the community informed during the wildfires.
A Stupid and Dangerous Ban
While Meta and the Canadian government continue their dispute, news outlets like Cabin Radio and their audiences suffer the consequences. Cabin Radio’s editor, Ollie Williams, expressed his frustration with the ban, stating that it is “stupid and dangerous.” He emphasized the lack of consideration for the people affected by the ban and the lack of input from the audience who rely on these news outlets for crucial updates.
Risk of Misinformation
The ban on news media by Meta comes with a risk of misinformation spreading during a natural disaster. Samuel Woolley, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism and Media, warns that without access to trusted and vetted news content, people’s lives are at risk. Platforms like Facebook, which have previously encouraged journalists to use their platform for news sharing while profiting from it, are now trying to distance themselves from the responsibility of compensating journalists or being treated as media entities.
- The ban on news media content in Canada on Facebook and Instagram is a result of a new law that requires tech giants to pay publishers for using their content online.
- Local news outlets like Cabin Radio have been blocked on social media platforms, leaving residents without access to crucial updates during emergencies like wildfires.
- Residents and supporters have found workarounds by sharing screenshots of news articles on Facebook and Instagram, ensuring that the community stays informed.
The ban on news media outlets by Meta on Facebook and Instagram in Canada has left residents in emergency situations without access to crucial updates and information. The ban highlights the ongoing dispute between tech giants and news publishers, as well as the need for reliable and trusted news sources during emergencies.
The ban on news media on social media platforms in Canada has had detrimental effects during emergencies like wildfires. While residents and news outlets find workarounds to share information, the risk of misinformation and the lack of access to trusted sources pose a threat to people’s lives. The ongoing dispute between tech giants and news publishers needs to be resolved to ensure the public’s access to reliable and timely information in times of crisis.