In a ruthless move, Meta – owner of Facebook and Instagram – recently killed all Canadian news content on its social media platforms, effectively blocking anyone from viewing news content or posting links to it themselves. Major Canadian news providers, smaller media companies, journalists, and ordinary citizens are just collateral damage in this act of retaliation by the social media behemoths to Canada’s new Online News Act. Google threatens to follow suit.
During this time, Facebook also permanently disabled all of my Facebook pages. No warning. No reason. No way to fight back. Is it a coincidence that this happened right after I criticized Facebook publicly for its brutal response to the new federal laws? Overnight, 30 years of memories and photos were deleted and the caring community of seniors I’d built on Facebook was vaporized by Meta.
A thoughtful article about Meta’s reaction to Ottawa’s bold legislation by the online news site Aljazeera speculates that it “raises challenging questions about whether social media platforms have responsibilities to society and what role governments have in regulating them.” Facebook and Instagram have become integral parts of many people’s everyday existence. But along with their potential to make our lives better, they also have the power to cause us great harm.
Because of the massive influence of social media in our society, governments at every level should take an active role in holding them responsible and accountable to the people who depend on them.
Unfettered power belongs in a dictatorship, not a democracy.
Doreen Marion Gee