RCMP Begin Shifting Their Messaging Focus to Social Media Following News Links Block

The RCMP is reconsidering their communication strategy after Meta began blocking news links in Canada. They’re moving online.

Meta’s announcement that they will begin blocking news links has been a sharp rebuff of the Big Publishing and Big Broadcasting talking point that all of these warnings are a big bluff. It put this idea that news content is just too important for the platforms to let go in serious doubt, lending even more credibility to the platforms point that news content really isn’t that valuable to the platforms in the first place. This over top of the fact that the platforms data concludes that people have little interest in the news in the first place and is easily replaced with other content.

While the media was put on notice by Meta, the government is spending the final days in which such content is available on Facebook pushing nonsense talking points and playing politics as the countries media stares down the barrel of its own demise. To the media’s credit, they did throw a Hail Mary shot by filing a complaint with the Competition Bureau, but as it turns out, the submission was incredibly weak and destined to fail sooner or later. It put into context of how completely out of options the media are in getting out of the hole they dug themselves in without the government.

Well, the ripple effects are certainly happening right now. Canada’s RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) has responded by suggesting that they are moving to focus their messaging to social media. As was said all along, emergency alerts and non-news sources won’t have their links blocked on the platforms. So, if a government (there are different levels of government, after all) needs to warn residents of something, they can still do so. The link blocking won’t affect their operations.

The media has long been a source for the RCMP to get their messages to the general population. If they are trying to show wanted pictures or look for missing persons, it’s something of a tradition that the RCMP work with the media to get their messages out there for decades. With news links being blocked on social media, that puts the RCMP in a bind. They could work with the media like they have always done, but if the media doesn’t have access to social media, arguably the best way to reach audiences these days, then what do they do? As it turns out, the RCMP have concluded that it would be best to just go to social media directly with their messages. From CTV:

When that happens, police forces won’t be able to count on links from local news outlets popping up in people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds as they scroll, though they will still be able to post their own news releases and other messages.

The Saskatchewan RCMP said Meta’s decision will affect the way they get information to the public and they are currently working through ways they can maximize the distribution of public safety messages.

In Manitoba, the RCMP said they will rely heavily on their own social media accounts to get important information out to the public.

“At the detachment level, in rural Manitoba, our social media has good reach and is immediate and we continue to rely on that for our messaging,” said Tara Seel, a spokeswoman for the Manitoba RCMP.

A spokesperson for the RCMP’s national headquarters said Mounties will also rely on alert systems, news releases and press conferences, while continuing to review new social media platforms that could help with communication.

Yes, for the time being, it sounds like the RCMP will be doing both, but it is quite interesting that the RCMP knows that social media is far too valuable of a source to just give up on, so they are splitting their attention between utilizing messaging between the media and social media.

On the surface, this just looks like a minor annoyance on the RCMP’s part, but it represents one more layer that has kept the media afloat beginning to peel off. Already, the traditional media has lost a lot of layers over the years. Whether it is the lack of flyers, the decreased attention to their broadcasts as platforms increasingly become a go-to place for content for people, and consolidation eating away at the quality of the journalistic operations, it’s little wonder why the media keeps losing their audiences to alternative sources.

As critics have said all along, the news links blocking is going to hurt the entire media sector. Some will lose considerable revenue while others might see this as the straw that breaks the camels back, going bankrupt in the process. With Bill C-18 accelerating the decline of the traditional media, the RCMP may find that social media may become their primary source of reaching the community (if that hasn’t happened already). It is no secret that the RCMP have had issues with low resources over the years. The real question then becomes, if you only have enough resources to message the public through either social media or the traditional media, what would you choose? Probably social media in the end.

That leaves the traditional media with one more critical relationship beginning to decouple. Indeed, the media can still get that information from the RCMP’s presence on social media, but that still nudges the RCMP one step further into using social media as their primary vehicle to reach the public.

Either way, such moves should add one more reason for the traditional media to be nervous about where things are heading. I’m not saying that the situation is good by any means. What I’ve been seeing all this time is an absolute horror show to be sure. What I am saying is that this could be the beginnings of another accelerant to the decline of the traditional media as we know it.

The government can, at any time, begin the process of rescinding the Online News Act so they can begin to reverse the damage caused by this terrible law. Unfortunately, all the government is doing at this point is tripling down on this law. As a result, the self-destruction of the news sector will only continue.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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