Blocking of News in Canada by Meta Affecting Media Outlets That Don’t Produce News

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The blocking of news in Canada by social media giant Meta has affected some unlikely media outlets whose primary purpose is not the production of news.

But the good news is at least one is back online.

The blocking, however, is affecting satirical websites and university radio stations.

The Beaverton, which describes itself as a “satire and parody publication,” was blocked by Meta on Facebook and Instagram a week ago after the technology conglomerate mistakenly lumped it in with news providers in Canada. Its readers, however, could once again see its content online by Thursday.

Luke Gordon Field, editor in chief of The Beaverton, said the blocking prompted him to act. The blocking was no joke, he said.

Field wrote an open letter to Meta threatening CEO Mark Zuckerberg with a fake lawsuit for defaming the publication by calling it a news organization. That letter was posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Field said he also “fiddled” with the settings on the publication’s Facebook page, changing its “about” information, to make it clear that The Beaverton is an entertainment and comedy company, not a news company.

“As comedians and comedy writers being compared to journalists, who have to be objective and fair and work extremely hard, was incredibly insulting to us and frankly defamatory,” Field told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Tuesday. 

“And we would not take it anymore because we just consider ourselves superior to journalists of all natures.”

The Beaverton never formally asked Meta to review its decision but Field said he believes the outcry, plus the changes to its Facebook information, pushed Meta to lift the ban. Readers enjoyed the letter, he added.

In an interview with CBC Toronto later, Field said The Beaverton advised Facebook that “we were in fact satirists, liars, miscreants, tricksters.”

Meta has begun to remove all news from its Facebook and Instagram platforms in Canada in response to a new federal law that would force the company to compensate media outlets for content that is shared or otherwise repurposed on their platforms.

“We’re a creature of social media,” Field told CBC Radio. “We rely on people coming to our website and the few pennies we get from online advertisers every time someone does in order to keep the lights on and pay our writing staff. From a business perspective, it’s not just important but necessary.”

Blocking affecting more than news agencies, host says

Dan Lovranski, the volunteer host of Dr Mouth’s Rock and Roll Lunch Party on CIUT 89.5 FM Tuesdays at noon, said CIUT-FM, the University of Toronto’s radio station, is being blocked by Meta on Facebook and Instagram. He said CIUT-FM, which mainly produces music-based programming, is a community-based university-run radio station.

“It’s affecting a lot more things than just news agencies,” Lovranski said on Tuesday. 

Lovranski said he’s amassed a global audience by promoting his show — “rock and roll, lots of fun, loud and boisterous, crazy music” — on Facebook and Instagram. He said Facebook is a “great promotional tool,” but no longer.

Now, listeners cannot be alerted to the show on Facebook and cannot be given information on how to download the show so that they can listen to it later, he said.

“If I can’t even provide them with the radio station’s website address so they can do that, that’s a big issue as far as I’m concerned and really has nothing to do with the greater issue at hand here. This is kind of like fallout from the whole thing,” he said.

Dan Lovranski
Dan Lovranski, the volunteer host of Dr Mouth’s Rock and Roll Lunch Party on CIUT 89.5 FM Tuesdays at noon, says: ‘Maybe Facebook needs to hear from people like me to realize the effect that this is having.’ (CBC)

Lovranski said he is hoping something changes soon so he can reach his audience again.

“Maybe Facebook needs to hear from people like me to realize the effect that this is having,” he said.

In a statement provided by Meta on Tuesday, the social media giant said if accounts are not sharing news content primarily focused on matters of general interest and current events, they can request a review.

“Our review team identifies news outlets based on legislative definitions. News outlets include undertakings whose primary purpose is to produce news content, in any format (including an audio or audiovisual format), that reports on, investigates, or explains current issues or events of public interest,” Meta said.

Last week, CBC joined other new publishers in requesting Canada’s Competition Bureau to investigate the news blocking. 

Source : CBC