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B.C.’s premier urges Meta to allow news sharing in B.C. amid wildfire crisis

VANCOUVER — Premier David Eby is calling on the social media company Meta to reverse its decision to block Canadian news from being shared online in British Columbia, saying it feels like it is holding the province “ransom” in its ongoing spat with Ottawa.

Eby is imploring the company and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to open up access to critical information that could help keep residents safe as the province grapples with devastating wildfires that have forced thousands of people from their homes.

He says the decision to permanently ban Canadian news on Facebook an Instragram is “incredibly frustrating” and he hopes “common sense prevails.”

Meta’s decision to block news came in response to Canada’s Online News Act, which will require tech giants like Meta and Google to make deals with news publishers whose content they link to or repurpose on their platforms to compensate them for their work.

Meta showed an unwillingness to co-operate on a potential deal and decided to remove news content from its platforms in Canada instead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed Eby’s sentiments at an earlier news conference in Charlottetown, saying it is “inconceivable” that a company would put corporate interests and profits over people’s safety during an emergency.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 21, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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