Toronto Star, Others Undermine Own Boycott By Joining Threads and Cheering On Mark Zuckerberg

The massive boycott of Meta isn’t going well. Supporters are joining Threads and rooting for Mark Zuckerberg.

Last week, Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, announced that it would be halting $10 million in advertising payments to Meta. The move came after Meta and Google announced that they will be blocking news links in response to the passage of Bill C-18.

The rhetoric against Meta rose to unhinged levels when Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, compared the fight to World War II, claiming that this is whole fight is a battle for democracy. Yes, we are still talking about the Canadian version of the link tax here. The comments came as the main talking point was pushed where Canadian businesses were encouraged to drop advertising support until the platforms “pay their fair share” and respect democracy. This despite dropping news links means that the platforms are in compliance of the law. The talking points were complete and total nonsense.

The problem is that it didn’t take long for cracks to form in this so-called “boycott”. The Liberal Party, the party that is currently governing the country, refused to participate in the boycott. Apparently, the value they got out of advertising was a bit too good for them to give up. So, instead, they just encouraged others to take the business risk while they’ll just, you know, be over there, cheering them on while shovelling their own money towards Meta for their own political gains.

This situation ended up with the large news organizations to go it alone as a number of them, including the Toronto Star, to announce that they will be dropping advertising spending on Meta – a move some worry will only increase the level of harm on the very news organizations that the bill was meant to prop up in the first place. The dollar amounts involved in the boycott are hilariously small with Meta making up the lost revenue in the span of, at most, an hour. In some cases, the platform needs less than a single second to make up that lost revenue, so the likelihood they’ll even notice the difference is remote.

Part of the supporters grievances involved the talking points that the platforms get money from user interaction. They (falsely) claimed that it’s their news content that is solely responsible for all of that user interactivity and the riches the platforms get in the first place. The claim is very laughable to say the least, but that’s one of their big thrusts in the debate.

So, it makes it all the more exasperating to see that the bills supporters are now… joining Meta’s new platform Threads in droves – even going so far as cheering on Mark Zuckerberg as he fights Elon Musk. In fact, on the day the Toronto Star announced that they will be boycotting Meta and loudly proclaiming that they will be part of the movement that brings Meta to heel (audience laughter), they joined Threads and started sharing their news content (audience laughs harder).

Now, it’s one thing to get an account to prevent someone from falsely claiming that they are the newspaper, that’s fine. It’s quite another thing to start sharing news content – the very content that supporters like the Toronto Star is screaming “theft” over. What’s more, the Toronto Star is also posting content on the platform, ensuring that Meta gets that added interactivity, handing even more power over to the “behemoth” in the first place.

The Toronto Star aren’t even the only ones doing this. Several Liberal MPs have started their own Threads accounts and even lending their voices in support of Mark Zuckerberg. This compounded the fact that the Liberal Party of Canada is still taking out advertising on Meta, funnelling direct cash to the very organization they claimed that they can’t, in good conscious, send money to them for literally “attacking” Canada and a core pillar of our democracy.

Seriously, what happened to this whole fight being a “battle for democracy”? Was that only comments made in the moment? Is the boycott over? It’s staggering that all that overheated rhetoric lasted all of one week, if that, before the supporters moved on to the next shiny thing they see. They’re not very good at this whole “boycott” thing, are they?

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.


  • DB says:

    Will Threads have to block news links to prevent Meta from having to pay?

    • Drew Wilson says:

      This is actually a really big question on my mind. Will the news links block extend to Threads as well? On the one hand, the law is basically targeted at Meta which suggests that Threads would, by extension, be scoped into the bill. On the other hand, when Meta announced their news links block, they only specifically said Facebook and Instagram. Threads is a brand new platform as well, so it’s hard to say if they would be designated under the Act. Maybe not since it’s not a huge platform like Facebook?

      All I know is that there is a lot of ambiguity of that. It’s entirely possible Meta will leave Threads alone on this angle unless the government comes knocking, but that is also a pretty big risk since they risk fines by doing so if I’m not mistaken.

      Yeah, I really don’t know for sure.

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