Canadian wildfires: Trudeau criticises Meta for blocking news during crisis

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Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has voiced concerns over Meta’s decision to block domestic news on its platforms.

Citing the current wildfire crisis, he said the company appears to prioritise profits over public safety.

Canada wildfires and the role of social media

In a recent conference in Prince Edward Island, Trudeau mentioned: “Facebook is putting corporate profits ahead of people’s safety.”

He described the action as “inconceivable.”

Just last week, federal ministers labelled the move as reckless.

Many evacuating due to the wildfires expressed difficulties in sharing vital information about the fires because of the ban.

Canada’s unprecedented wildfire season

Currently, Canada is undergoing its most severe wildfire season to date.

Major areas affected include British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

“It’s time for us to expect more from corporations like Facebook,” remarked Trudeau.

Despite the news block, Meta reports that Canadians are still using its platforms to connect and access information, including from official government and emergency services.

As of Friday, over 45,000 individuals had used the “Safety Check” feature on Facebook.

Additionally, 300,000 had visited crisis response pages to seek support, the company stated.

IFSJ Comment

In the evolving era of digital information, timely access to local news is critical, especially during emergencies such as the wildfires ravaging Canada.

Social media platforms, due to their vast reach and real-time capabilities, play a pivotal role in dissemination.

It’s concerning when obstacles, like the news block initiated by Meta, hamper the flow of essential information.

These challenges underscore the importance of multiple information channels and the responsibility tech giants hold in public safety scenarios.

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