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Canadian authorities condemn Facebook for news ban in view of wildfires

As Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories in Canada, began the mass evacuation of 20,000 residents last week, the city turned to Facebook to help share the latest information about the wildfires. coming fast,

But instead of sharing a link to a story about the wildfires from CPAC, a cable public affairs channel, the city directed residents to look up the information on a search engine.

“Google: CPAC Canada or www. CPAC. ca (just remove the spaces),” Posted by city,

In the midst of the natural disaster, Yellowknife had to survive Facebook’s decision to block news articles on its platform in Canada. Facebook’s parent company Meta began implementing the ban on August 1 in response to new canada law This would require tech companies to pay news outlets to use their content.

Canadian lawmakers passed the Online News Act in June, requiring social media platforms such as Meta and search engines such as Google to negotiate with news publishers to license their content. This law is going to come into effect in December. But Meta Described Legislation as “impractical” and stated that the only way for the company to comply with the law was to “end news availability to people in Canada”.

As a result, content posted on Facebook and Instagram by local Canadian and international news outlets will no longer be visible to Canadians using these platforms.

“We have been clear since February that the broad scope of the Online News Act will affect the sharing of news content on our platforms,” ​​Meta said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are focused on ensuring that people in Canada can use our technologies to connect with loved ones and access information.”

Meta also noted that more than 65,000 people have declared themselves safe from wildfires by using Facebook’s Safety Check tool.

But for many Canadians, especially those living in remote parts of the country who rely heavily on social media for information, the timing couldn’t have been worse, given the country’s situation. Worst wildfire season on record,

“It is so unimaginable that a company like Facebook is prioritizing corporate profits before making sure local news organizations can get the latest information to Canadians,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. “Instead of ensuring that local journalists are paid fairly to keep Canadians informed about things like wildfires, Facebook is withholding news from its sites.”

In response, some users are looking for workarounds, such as typing in the full URL, as the city of Yellowknife did, taking screenshots and inserting additional information in comments — or skipping Facebook and Instagram altogether.

Ollie Williams, News Editor cabin radioAn independent online news site and radio station in Yellowknife said the platforms have become “useless” in the wake of the new ban and the station has stopped using them. The ban is “foolish and dangerous,” he said, “because it impedes the flow of critical information in a crisis.”

“We have seen a lot of demonstration of this,” he said.

Mr Williams said viewers of Cabin Radio had done a “remarkable job” of “undermining” Facebook by taking screenshots of news articles and posting them on their pages, or going directly to Cabin Radio’s website for news stories.

Instead of turning to a new social media strategy in the midst of covering the fire, Mr Williams said Cabin Radio’s readers and listeners worked for him “in a way I didn’t expect”, he said. “It took a lot of weight off our shoulders.”

Over the past few weeks, there has been traffic to the Cabin Radio site, where a small group of journalists have covered a wide range of development Records related to the fire and evacuation efforts have been broken, Mr Williams said.

But other groups haven’t been as lucky.

Melissa David, Founder parachute for petsA Calgary-based group that provides pet assistance programs and emergency response services said the organization relies on Facebook to share verified information. But because the group was not able to include a news article with a post announcing that Parachute for Pets had been designated an official emergency response center, volunteers were confused and some questioned the authenticity of the post. Raised, he said.

Ms Davies said the organisation, which is helping care for more than 400 animals affected by wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, had to bring in two additional volunteers to help directly.

“We have found the rhythm, but it is still a hurdle,” he added.

Trevor Moss, chief executive of the Central Okanagan Food Bank, said he is concerned about the long-term impact of the news ban. The food bank serves the Kelowna area in British Columbia, where the fire continues to rage,

“We are going through six to eight weeks of recovery,” he said. “We are in a crisis, and people want to respond, and every news media outlet should be allowed to do so at this time.”

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