Misleading Information Being Posted By the Canadian Heritage Twitter Account on Bill C-11

Liberals have been turning up the heat by throwing petty insults at Bill C-11 critics. Canadian Heritage is now involved.

The Bill C-11 debate has become quite heated. Canadian creators concerned with whether or not they’ll have a future have been taking their concerns to the Canadian government. The concerns are, of course, well founded. It’s hard enough to eek out a living online. There’s plenty to know about the algorithms and how audiences generally respond to content. What’s more is that competition is extremely stiff in so many categories. Still, some Canadian creators do make it to a level of success. All that risks being undone by the Canadian government ordering large platforms to warp and change their algorithms so that their hand-picked content will receive the maximum amount of attention.

So, not only will creators have to compete with each other for those eyeballs, but now they face the possibility of fighting for leftover scraps of recommended content spaces on top of it all. This is because, as things stand now, the CRTC rules for what qualifies as Canadian content, is quite ridiculous. As we earlier examined, even though this site is 100% employed by Canadians, our podcast and YouTube channel won’t qualify as “Canadian content”. The insane rules were built around legacy corporations with VHS camera’s in mind among other things.

Compounding the problem is the fact that digital first creators were never consulted over the drafting of the legislation of the bill. In fact, they were largely excluded from the conversation altogether. Given where the legislation and the rules that go along with it stands now, that is entirely not surprising. After all, the rules and laws being drafted only have legacy corporations like CTV and Global in mind. Everything else, as far as the government was concerned, didn’t really matter all that much.

Of course, just because creators weren’t consulted doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t really care about the process. In the last few weeks, a number of creators were trying to get through with the Canadian government. Among the messages they were sending is that their voice should matter given that their very future’s would be impacted by these changes. Others are rightfully freaked out that their viewership could soon dry up because of these changes. We know because we are basically in the same boat as many of these creators at this stage.

Rather than engage and discuss the law with these creators, the Liberal party chose a different path: to outright attack those creators and view them as a threat to the legislative process. One Liberal MP, Chris Bittle, went on Twitter and openly launched attacks on Canadian creators for having the audacity to question the legislation. When the very public attacks on creators became apparent, others joined in to defend the creators. In response, Bittle went into full meltdown, attacking pretty much everyone and rage tweeting in the process. Keep in mind, the related ministry is supposed to be representing Canadian creators, yet, here we are, seeing them openly attack them instead.

Now, the Heritage Canada twitter account is joining in and posting misleading information and misinformation on their official Twitter account:

Did you know?

Bill C-11 will only apply to commercial content on major broadcasting services.

This statement is actually false. The legislation applies to platforms as well as a large portion of content that is posted on them. By definition, a site like YouTube is a platform, not a “broadcasting service”.

Did you know?

The Online Streaming Act would not apply to Digital First Creators. Users of social media services would never face obligations. See for yourself at 2(2.1).

This statement is misleading. Section 2(2.1) is not the only relevant section when discussing this. There’s also Section 4.1(2) and 4.2 which tells a very different story. In fact, this misleading statement dates as far back as May of 2021. The idea is to say that the legislation does not regulate the people behind the content, pretending that this is the end of the debate. In fact, the concern is that the people’s content is being regulated which is very much part of the legislation (both then and now). The wording in the bill is such that it was designed to use such a tool to mislead the public about what Bill C-11 does.

Some users have said that they have begun reporting misleading statements by government and their officials to Twitter, but it’s unlikely Twitter will really do anything about the misinformation.

Michael Geist, of course, responded to at least one of the misleading tweets:

Did you know?

That if you keep reading, Section 4.1(2) opens the door to treating the uploads by users of social media services (ie. Digital First Creators) as “programs” subject to potential CRTC regulation.

From the creators perspective, all of this is quite distressing to see. A lot of creators out there don’t like getting involved in the politics side of things. The problem is, this could very easily affect their livelihoods as well. So, a lot of them are trying to figure out how they could possibly survive this one. The thing is, there isn’t really a whole lot that can be done. A system is being erected that is designed to exclude them if they are not part of the establishment. Whatever these creators set up, this is going to hurt them one way or another. The only question is, to what degree will this hurt them?

Canadian consumers, in the mean time, are seeing that their viewing options are going to be filled with recommendations they don’t want. This adds to the clutter of their online experience which is bad enough. What’s more is if they see some of their favourite creators go under thanks to these heavy regulations, then they are going to see fewer choices left in whatever it is they can find as the pickings become more slim. Some argue that this is about specific political messages being controlled, but it is actually much more fundamental then that. This is about legacy corporations getting a permanent advantage over their online competing counterparts.

At the end of the day, a lot of people stand to get hurt by this. The Canadian government is demonstrating that they don’t care because, as far as they are concerned, only high paid lobbyists are who count in the debates that shape the future of Canada. Anyone else can, well, go expletive themselves.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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