Canada Request Meta to deactivate “Safety Check” feature on Facebook and Instagram to share domestic News

The Canadian government on Friday asked Meta to lift a “reckless” ban on national news from its platforms to allow people to share information about wildfires in the west of the country.

Meta began blocking news on its Facebook and Instagram platforms from all users in Canada this month in response to a new law requiring internet giants to pay for articles.

Some people fleeing wildfires in the remote northern city of Yellowknife have complained to national media that the ban is preventing them from sharing vital fire data.

“Meta’s reckless choice to block news (…) harms access to vital information on Facebook and Instagram,” Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said in a social media post. . “We ask that they restore news sharing today for the safety of Canadians facing this emergency. We need more news now, not less.” she said.

Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez had earlier said the ban meant people were deprived of important information.

Chris Bittle, a lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Party, complained on Thursday that “Meta’s act of blocking news is reckless and irresponsible.”

Ollie Williams, who runs Cabin Radio digital radio station in Yellowknife, told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that people posted screenshots of news on Facebook because they couldn’t share the link to the news feed. In response, a spokesperson for Meta said via email that the company has enabled a “Safety Check” feature on Facebook, which allows users to notify users that they are safe following a natural disaster or crisis. .

Canadians can use Facebook and Instagram to access content from official government agencies, emergency services and NGOs, the spokesperson added.

Meta said users do not visit their platforms for information, and that forcing the company to pay for content shared on their platforms is not viable for their business.