Canadian Media, Heritage Minister, Freaks Out Over Facebook News Block

Canada’s biggest link tax cheerleaders are freaking out over Facebook’s decision to delete their news feed. Wants to double down.

Yesterday, we reported on how Facebook has shut down news feeds in Australia. The decision wound up being a very logical and legal one. After all, Facebook is under no obligation to provide a news feed for anyone in the first place. When they deleted the news feeds, the Australian government condemned the move mostly because they saw their scheme quickly falling apart.

Now, the Canadian media, which is known for having an anti-tech bias, along with the link tax biggest cheerleader, the Canadian Heritage Minister, is condemning the move. Media outlets quickly shoved microphones towards the minister who gave his reaction. From The Globe and Mail:

Canada is strongly condemning Facebook’s decision to block news-sharing on its platform in Australia as part of an escalating standoff over rules requiring social-media platforms to compensate news publishers.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said Thursday that Facebook’s actions are imperilling public safety, given that the news ban initially led to the temporary shutdown of Facebook pages run by key government agencies, including a suicide-prevention service and a fire-and-rescue organization.

Mr. Guilbeault said Facebook’s move will not deter Canada from moving ahead with legislation early this year that will require social-media platforms to fund news.

“I must condemn what Facebook is doing,” he said Thursday during an online news conference. “I think what Facebook is doing in Australia is highly irresponsible and compromises the safety of many Australian people.”

One thing to note is that Facebook has pointed out that non-news related organizations caught up in the removal of news was a mistake and are correcting the issue. Pro-link tax sources are trying to play this up as a diversion to the fact that Australian news sources are no longer available.

What the report highlights is that Guilbeault’s response is that Canada should double down on the idiotic scheme. The question is, will Guilbeault decide to hasten the demise of news on Facebook in Canada by moving up the link tax law or will he wait until after the dust settles from the forthcoming budget vote?

The thing here is that Facebook threatened to pull news feeds from Australia long ago. Australia chose to ignore those warnings and moved ahead with the link tax. When Australia ignored those warnings, Facebook simply followed through with their threat. Similarly, Facebook issued similar warnings in Canada. They have shown that they will follow through with these threats if a government tries implementing a link tax. So, Guilbeault is essentially risking repeating Australia’s mistake.

CBC is, of course, joining in on going full stupid in this situation. In an article up today, they are suggesting that maybe every government should gang up on “big tech”. From the CBC:

Big Tech may be too powerful for a single country to take on, though Australia is trying — and Canada may, too

But now, as internet mega companies such as Facebook and Google have taken over much of the ad revenue and eyeballs that mainstream media used to enjoy, there have been only nascent efforts to make them answer to the public interest.

This week, as Australia considered laws to make them pay for news, the new communications giants have demonstrated they can thumb their noses at mere national governments.

But with a growing sense around the world, including in Canada, that Facebook, Google and the like have grown too big and powerful, there are those who say an international effort is necessary to take on the titans of tech.

“There are enormous benefits that come from these platforms, but the harms have become increasingly obvious, and they touch every aspect of our lives,” said Fay. “Governments need to take action.”

If the aim here is to get a link tax in every country, that simply isn’t going to work. Facebook itself has said that news accounts for a very tiny amount of their business model. If they simply blocked all news around the world, they won’t be hurting that much. The problem outlets are facing with having their news feeds getting sent down the black hole will simply be exacerbated wherever this idiotic law is passed.

Just to be clear, we aren’t saying Facebook is perfect. Far from it. There’s countless issues with privacy issues as well as pro-conservative bias among other issues. The fact is, not getting a link tax law implemented is probably one of the worst hills to die on if this is what causes the anti-tech media to howel like banshee’s. There are many long-standing issues, but a link tax is probably the most selfish counterproductive moment to take any kind of stand we’ve seen to date.

The worst part is that people like Guilbeault simply do not care and think that doing the same thing hoping to yield a different result is the sane thing to do here. It’ll result in significant collateral damage here in Canada that will even affect us. We know full well that we are seeing our Facebook feed at risk here. Unfortunately, other than pointing out the insanity in all of this, there is very little we can do about it.

So, for the time being, it seems that Canada is hell bent on repeating history yet again. The only question is how long it’ll take for Canada to also put their hand on the hot element.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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