Evacuees from wildfires in the Northwest Territories are struggling to get life-saving information because Meta, the owner of Facebook, blocked news content from being shared on its platforms in Canada.
The ban is part of Meta’s dispute with the Canadian government over a new law that would force big tech companies to pay news publishers for their content.
Delaney Poitras, who lives in Fort Smith, N.W.T., says she was unable to share a live news conference about the evacuation of Yellowknife on Facebook because it was blocked. “It’s difficult to find the correct information to share to all the people that I have on Facebook,” she said.
Meta has said that government sites and other sources that disseminate information aren’t subject to the ban. But Poitras says that’s not enough.
Ollie Williams, the editor of Yellowknife-based Cabin Radio, says Meta’s move to block news is “stupid and dangerous and clearly should not be in place.” He also blames the federal government for picking this fight in the first place.
Meta on the other hand insists that it’s sticking to its position. But it has activated a function known as Safety Check that allows users to click a button to update their status and let their friends and family know they’re safe from the wildfires.
The sources for this piece include an article in CBC.