Public broadcasting and Canadian culture advocate FRIENDS is leading a boycott of Facebook and Instagram, in response to Meta’s move to block news on its platforms in Canada.
FRIENDS is urging users to “Go Dark” on Meta’s platforms Wednesday and Thursday as the digital giant’s news blocking exercise, a retaliatory effort in response to passage of the Online News Act, closes in on the one-month mark.
The organization is also encouraging Canadians to write to their MPs to ask them to join the Go Dark campaign, in support of Canadian news outlets.
“It is important that we collectively stand together and show Meta that we won’t be pushed around,” said FRIENDS’ Executive Director Marla Boltman, in a release. “They need to understand that the throttling of Canadian news was the final straw in our already tenuous relationship with their social media platforms. By encouraging users to go dark, Canadians are sending Meta a clear message: if our news goes, we go.”
“Eyeballs on their platforms are the most valuable commodity Meta has,” added Boltman. “Losing many Canadian users, even for a short period of time, will get their attention. But more importantly, it will give Canadians an opportunity to demonstrate their frustration and disappointment with Meta.”
Among those supporting the 48-hour boycott is ACTRA National, the national union of professional performers working in recorded media in Canada, representing over 28,000 members across the country.
Instead of finally paying their fair share for content created by Canadian news publishers, @Meta is blocking crucial news from Canadians like you.
— ACTRA National (@ACTRAnational) August 22, 2023
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among those denouncing Meta’s news block earlier this week as thousands of residents of B.C. and the Northwest Territories are evacuated due to wildfires.
Trudeau told a news conference Monday that Facebook had chosen “to put corporate profits ahead of ensuring that local news organizations can get up to date information to Canadians and reach them where Canadians spend a lot of their time – online, on social media, on Facebook.”
“In the larger picture, it’s bad for democracy because democracy depends on people being able to trust high-quality journalism of all different perspectives and points of view, but right now in an emergency situation, up-to-date local information is more important than ever,” said Trudeau. “Facebook is putting corporate profits ahead of people’s safety, ahead of supporting quality local journalism…it’s time for us to expect more from corporations like Facebook that are making billions of dollars off of Canadians.”
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