Bill C-18: The Begging and Instagram Blocking Continues

More sources are experiencing test blocking while others are continuing to beg their readers to bookmark their sites.

The chaos unleashed by Bill C-18 is continuing to run rampant in the Canadian news sector. Bill C-18 supporters and the government had long ignored warnings that news links would get blocked on Meta and Google services. Such an outcome would have a devastating impact on numerous news outlets. Yes, there are a few outliers out there where news businesses managed to work out something to avoid dependence on both, but those are generally exceptions and not the rule. For the most part, news publications depend heavily on either Meta platforms, Google, or, more likely, both. That’s just the modern reality.

While a few voices supporting the legislation has admitted that maybe this whole affair would wind up backfiring on them, numerous other players are screaming “full steam ahead” as the whole news sector is locked on course for ruin. While some out there are trying to pretend that they are in control of the situation and things will just magically work out in the end because reasons and like such as, the actions by many of these sources suggests that the media companies are in full blown panic mode.

One effort was to ask advertise to “pledge” 25% of their budgets to news operations. This while others find themselves begging readers to bookmark their pages or download their apps. No one knows when that switch is getting pulled to block news links fully, but everyone knows it’s coming. It’s amazing how much survival instincts take over and just override messaging campaigns and public statements saying that everything is fine, nothing to see here.

One source that is now basically admitting that this whole thing is backfiring is none other than Pattison Media. It seems that they are the latest news organization begging readers to download their apps and bookmark their pages before things hit the fan. From CFJCToday:

In response to the new legislation, Google said it will remove Canadian news links from its search engine. Meta, the parent company for Facebook and Instagram, said it too would stop sharing news on its platforms for Canadians.

While this is a serious problem for news organizations in the country, there is also a risk to you – our loyal readers. It could mean that you won’t see our posts on your Facebook feed and our news stories won’t show up when you search them in Google.

What may change is how you find us, but there are some simple steps you can take right now to ensure that you’ll always have easy access to free local news coverage.

  1. Visit directly through your web address bar.
  2. Bookmark our website in your internet browser. That will allow you quick and direct access to the page instead of having to search for it in the future.
  3. Download our free news app
  4. Sign up for push notifications from our news portal or daily news bulletins via email (an option we’ll be sure to promote in the coming weeks)

Obviously, this is a situation that the large media companies, in general, brought on themselves. By pushing for this legislation, ignoring and attacking critics who dared to raise question and warn of consequences, and pushing a continuous firehose of disinformation all throughout this process, it’s hard to pity any news organization that resorts to these tactics without admitting, at minimum, that maybe this legislation wasn’t the smartest move.

Meanwhile, another increasingly familiar trend are news outlets finding that they are suddenly losing access to their Instagram accounts. The loss of access is part of ongoing testing on the part of Meta. One recent post was made by Christopher Curtis of The Rover who is messaging the people he needs to message in raising concerns about what is happening:

Hello @PascaleStOnge_, I know it’s important to save big newspapers but those of us who aren’t owned by 🇺🇸vampire hedge funds need to put food on the table for our families. This fight with Meta is making that harder and harder. Our livelihoods are at stake.

Indeed, this is the very real damage caused by the Online News Act. A lot of people, innocent bystanders or otherwise, stand to get hurt by this. Most observers should accurately put the blame on the government and the large media companies for what is happening. In cases like Curtis, they have every reason to be angry and afraid (among other emotions, no doubt). Unfortunately, short of a full repeal of the legislation (which is not likely to happen), there’s very little that can even stop these events. Could the government delay the coming into force of this new law? Sure, but that offers no promises – just extends the possible time frame when things go down here.

It’s really sad seeing so many lives on the verge of being ruined by this terrible new law. Everything about what we are witnessing is an absolute horror show – but a horror show that was also entirely preventable. Canada didn’t need to deep-six the entire media sector because a few hedge fund owned outlets decided to be exceptionally greedy. As time continues on, we can only expect to see more panic and chaos in the sector.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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