City of Hamilton Becomes Latest Gullible Sucker to Join the Failed Meta Boycott

The City of Hamilton decided to pick now as the time to join the failed Meta advertiser boycott. It won’t change anything.

When Meta announced that they were blocking news links in response to the passage of the Online News Act, it marked the moment supporters were completely out of options. There was no viable strategy, no contingency plan, and certainly no “Plan B”. Supporters were relying completely on magical thinking that everything will just magically work out because, uh, reasons. It wasn’t as though supporters and the government weren’t asked about a fallback plan. Those questions were just met with sputtering, stammering, and random comments about a table from then Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez.

Perhaps the more remarkable aspect of this is the fact that random noises was a sufficient 4D chess plan for supporters as most just nodded their heads in approval of this, completely oblivious to the extraordinary amounts of harm they were about to unleash on their own industry. The whole situation would’ve been hilarious had the consequences not been so dire as they have been.

The real question in all of this is how long it will take before basic survival instinct finally takes hold as reality finally hits. Shortly after Meta’s announcement, the government attempted to kick off an advertiser boycott. The “thinking” behind the doomed to fail boycott was that if advertisers pulled out, Meta would lose so much money that they would have no choice but to come to heel and start signing “deals” (AKA pay ransom payments) with the publishers.

The reality of the situation was that such a boycott had no shot at working. For one, advertisers in Canada simply do not have the budgets to even make a financial dent. Simply put, the math is just not on the side of those trying to execute this boycott. As we pointed out at the time, over the course of 12 months, Meta made $117.346 billion. So, although the initial $10 million being pulled out of Meta sounds like a large number, it really isn’t for a company that huge. In all, a calculation can be made that Meta makes somewhere in the ballpark of $13,395,662.10 per hour. The dollar figure for the government works out to about nothing.

The boycott was ultimately dead on arrival as the Liberal Party of Canada, the current political party in government, refused to partake in their own boycott. This despite the insane bluster of comparing this fight to World War II. It was an impossible logical leap to overcome to try and say on the one hand that this fight is so important for the future of democracy on one hand, yet on the other hand, say that the party can’t be bothered to join this fight in the first place.

To make matters worse is the fact that the only ones joining this “boycott” were organizations that were behind the initial Bill C-18 push in the first place. To pour salt in the wounds, their advertising budgets were extremely microscopic, kneecapping any claims of momentum. For instance, the Toronto Star joined the boycott, suspending what appears to be an ad campaign valued at somewhere in the ballpark of $3,292 per year. Given that one reasonable calculation is that Facebook makes roughly $3,721.02 per second, the fact that the suspension amounted to less than one second of revenue for the company wasn’t exactly something that instilled confidence in the potential success of such a boycott.

The boycott ultimately ended in failure. Meta’s position on the matter has remained unchanged and the lack of any change in traffic suggests that Meta has no reason at this stage to restore news links on their platforms.

The government, meanwhile, became extremely desperate, trying to find anyone that is joining in on the boycott and make wild claims of momentum on what amounted to a monumental failure. In August, long after it was clear that the boycott was a failure, Quebec Union, FTQ, suspended their advertising campaign on Meta. The ad campaign was seemingly valued at roughly $2,200 per year. Yeah, if you thought the Toronto Star’s suspension was pathetically insignificant, FTQ’s suspension amounted to a laughably microscopic contribution to an already failed boycott. That didn’t stop Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge, from claiming that there was momentum with this boycott in the first place, adding to the pathetic state things are in.

Ever since, I figured that would be the last I heard about this tragic failure – especially considering major lobbying organization, News Media Canada, more or less surrendered their position and opted to call on the government to address Google’s concerns (anything short of calling for the rescinding of law is unlikely to succeed there, though).

So, you can imagine my surprise seeing the Heritage Minister flogging that boycott dead horse. Apparently, the City of Hamilton had suspended their advertising campaign on Meta, saying that this is in response to Meta’s decision to block news links. I know. From the CBC (complete with disinformation goodness which is shockingly still in use):

The City of Hamilton will no longer advertise on Meta’s Facebook or Instagram after council voted to boycott the social media platforms.

The motion is a show of support for the Trudeau government’s Bill C-18, and its ongoing fight with social media giant Meta over its use of news content, said Coun. John-Paul Danko (Ward 8), who put forward the motion earlier this month. Council passed the motion Wednesday.

“In this [bill], the federal government is defining local news as important to our democratic institutions,” Danko said at a general issues committee meeting Oct. 4. “They’ve recognized the near collapse of the local news system because of tech platforms.”

So far this year the city says it has spent $33,000 on advertising on Meta platforms.

You honestly can’t facepalm hard enough at that snippet. For one, this is about news links, so whoever wrote this article is intentionally trying to spread misleading statements about what the Act actually does. For another, the boycott ship has sailed long ago, hit the rocks of reality, and sunk into the depths of failure below. It’s bizarre that any entity thinks that this boycott is still a thing.

Additionally, it’s surprising that anyone thought that $33,000 was a large number in this whole thing. This amounts to a shade under 9 seconds of revenue for Meta. The idea that anyone thought that this will send a message to Meta and concluded anything along the lines of “that’ll teach ’em” is extremely laughable. For Meta, the news will get met with the standard “oh no, anyway” response:

The punchline in all of this is that the infinitely delusional Heritage Minister thinks that this is anything remotely considered momentum:

.@CityofHamilton stepping up along with other governments & businesses to tell @Facebook that Canadians expect them to pay their fair share for news.

Canadians won’t be intimidated. #cdnpoli #cdnnews

Yeah, even as key allies in this fight have begun folding on their positions, the Minister still somehow thinks she’s winning in this fight. Yup, and that kind of “winning” deserves an appropriate seal of approval as well.

One can draw some takeaways in this whole sorry state of affairs here.

One possible takeaway in all of this is a possible motive behind the City of Hamilton. It is certainly possible that they are trying to cut their budgets and decided that by spinning the cuts in this manner, they can get some free publicity in the process. It would be a plausible explanation that this was done purely as a publicity stunt because why else join a boycott long after it has met it’s obvious demise?

Another takeaway one can get out of this is that even if every corporation suspended their advertising campaign on Meta, all declaring their support to this really stupid cause, it wouldn’t make a difference in Meta’s position. Meta has advertisers from all over the world and Canadian companies simply do not have the budgets to compel the platforms to change their mind on this. This latest development really doesn’t move the needle on anything. I mean, just look at the 8.87 seconds statistic. Is Meta ever going to miss that? Not really.

A third takeaway which is arguably the biggest of the three is that the Canadian government seems to be sending a message that it’s full steam ahead with this impending disaster. Even as recently as earlier this month, Google has saidnecessary“.

While News Media Canada waved the white flag on this, the Canadian government is still currently in the position of stepping on the gas, bent on driving full speed ahead towards the cliff. So, despite a leading lobbyist for the legislation finally taking their foot on the gas pedal, the government continues to push that pedal to the floor. Unless the messages of trying to find compromise simply hasn’t made it to the government yet, this may be additional evidence that the government hasn’t budged on its position of blowing up the entire news sector in this country.

Either way, the City of Hamilton is setting itself up to look like buffoons in all of this. In the extremely likely event that Google does the same thing by December 19th, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the City of Hamilton flushed whatever benefits they were getting from the advertising down the toilet for no real good reason. Shaking your head and rolling your eyes at the City of Hamilton’s actions (not to mention the federal governments actions) is the only natural response one can have at this whole farce.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.


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