Turnout for Latest Meta Boycott Almost Non-Existent

The latest Meta boycott is in the process of failing spectacularly hard. The hashtag is barely getting mentioned.

The humiliation of the media companies appears destined to continue.

In response to the Online News Act, Meta dropped news links from their platforms. The media companies were convinced that the whole world revolves around them and, in equal measure, believed that all of Canada was behind them. The signs, however, proved otherwise. Meta’s traffic remained unchanged while the media companies engagement collapsed in spectacular fashion.

Faced with such a significant threat of their own making, the media companies and the Canadian government grew extremely desperate, trying to conjure up anything that would turn the tide. One method was leading a massive boycott of Meta in an effort to bring the platforms to heel. The Canadian government initiated an advertiser boycott. It was a boycott that the current governing party refused to participate in. The few companies that did participate couldn’t make a financial dent on Meta. Ultimately, the advertiser boycott failed hard.

On the back of that humiliating defeat, FRIENDS tried their own hand at this boycott business. In their effort last month, the lobby group pushed for a user boycott of Meta. The boycott faced an uphill battle from the beginning since users generally aren’t that invested in this fight for the most part. In fact, a good chunk of users aren’t even aware that this is going on. Facebook users are much more likely to communicate with each other and share memes than go to Meta platforms for news content. Predictably, the boycott wound up being an abysmal failure.

More recently, lobby groups tried again with a user boycott by launching a third boycott. The previous boycott showed that users don’t really care about their cause, so maybe doing the same thing will yield a different result – you know, definition of insanity and all that.

Well, the date for that boycott was today. So, we checked in to see where things stand. On X/Twitter today, there was a total of four posts from people joining the boycott. One post linking to an Al Jazeera article, a former journalist just posting the hashtag, a small news organization, and a director for a news lobby group. Even some of the lobby groups that were trying to build up the hype weren’t posting about it today as of this writing.

A quick browse through the news articles and we turned up one lonely Al Jazeera article (the same one that was linked to on X/Twitter). That article is showcasing some pretty big claims about this “boycott”:

Montreal, Canada – Journalist and public relations federations in the Canadian province of Quebec are calling on the public to join a one-day boycott of Meta-owned social media platforms over the company’s ban on news-sharing in Canada.

The Federation of Professional Journalists of Quebec said Friday’s so-called “Day without Meta” – coinciding with International Day of Democracy – aimed to send a message that “Quebec will not let itself be intimidated and will continue to support local media and journalists”.

“By blocking news, Meta is not allowing citizens to access credible information and that greatly concerns us,” Patrick Howe, president of the Quebec Society of Public Relations Professionals, said in a statement last week.

The Canadian Association of Journalists, major Quebec media conglomerate Quebecor, as well as unions, municipalities, and chambers of commerce in the French-speaking province signed on to Friday’s “Day without Meta”.

The groups have asked Canadians to avoid posting on Facebook and Instagram for the day. They also urged people to subscribe to a local media outlet instead.

Yeah, those comments really didn’t age that well.

Over on TheHubCanada, the day was noted as a boycott no one cares about:

Meta’s bluffing, they said.

Facebook will never survive without news, they insisted. Users will demand it.

The web giants will cave in just like they did in Australia, they said. Just wait.

These statements tell you everything you need to know about how badly so many within the world of journalism, overwhelmed by bluster, misunderstand the economics of the online world and their business’s 21st-century reality. So far, the most vociferous backers of the Online News Act (Bill C-18) haven’t just been wrong about predicting its consequences, they have misjudged public sentiment in extravagant style. One wonders what they teach in journalism schools that so many could be so spectacularly and predictably wrong.

Today, they will continue that tradition with a cringeworthy call for the nation to rise in solidarity with them and mark Sept.15 as a #DayWithoutMeta. The date was chosen because it correlates to International Democracy Day. And, as we all know from reading the public prints and watching TV news, the foundations of society crumble without well-paid journos. Or so they say.

Today will be the big #DayWithoutMeta.

“This 15th of September, all members of the public are invited to avoid sharing anything on Facebook and Instagram, as well as subscribing to a local media or its newsletter,” the organizers stated in a Newswire release. “This small gesture would send a strong message that Canadians are not [to] be intimidated by Meta’s decision, and that they will support journalists and news’ organizations based in our country.”

No doubt a few will heed the call. But at time of writing, a search on X for the hashtag #DayWithoutMeta produced just two results. One was from a poster in Washington, D.C. The other was from UNIFOR. In its first 13 hours, the UNIFOR post solicited two re-posts, one like, and 73 impressions.

Someone needs to tell the news industry—friend to friend—that the public’s nowhere near as into it as it is into itself.

Because this is getting embarrassing.

So, basically, Peter Menzies found an equally desolate place where a massive boycott should be. With so few mentions on media organizations right now, it appears that this is destined to end in the most spectacular failures yet. This isn’t even getting into the fact that Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, refused to participate in this boycott:

In case you wondering about the success of journo’s and @UniforTheUnion’s call for today’s boycott of Facebook/Meta, Justin Trudeau’s vow to bring the web giant to heel hasn’t lasted too long: the Prime Minister ignored #DayWithoutMeta and posted

Is anything, the only response this “boycott” is destined to elicit is loud laughter. What’s more, it really is showcasing just out of touch the large media companies really are these days. They have all the publicity firepower in the world and this is the best they could muster for their own cause.

The media companies were right on one thing about this boycott. It did send a strong message to the platforms. That message is that the platforms have nothing to worry about because almost no one in Canada cares about the media companies “cause”. To say this is backfiring is an understatement.

The next question is what is the media companies next move. Obviously, they have no real good moves to make. That has been the case since the legislation passed and Meta said it would carry through with news links blocking back in June. So, the real question is, how will the media companies further embarrass themselves? We certainly have our bucket of popcorn ready to see how they’ll figure out how to further embarrass themselves.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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