WEYBURN - It is very frustrating to face the current blockage of Canadian news by Facebook, and I feel powerless to do anything about it, even as a journalist. Social media is the most commonly used source, since people are very comfortable in just watching their feeds for what matters the most in their lives.
Twitter and LinkedIn have not joined the ban, however Facebook is the most popular platform with over 2.96 billion users in the world.
Meta, the parent company for Facebook, has pulled Canadian news content off their platform in response to the Online News Act. I am not a politician, or even someone responsible for the drafting of federal legislation, but did our federal government really expect to take on the big wigs of Meta and Google?
Who does the Online News Act really help? It definitely is not supporting or benefiting Canadian news offices. The Online News Act is not about payment for the reproduction of journalists’ work, instead it is about payment for links.
Canadian news sites would lose valuable referral traffic without those links available to other social media platforms. This was easily proved last week, after Facebook officially fulfilled their vow to remove Canadian news links from their platform.
News outlets like newspapers, TV and radio have seen a drastic decrease of traffic to their websites. This is even after spending advertising dollars and writing editorials encouraging our customers to bookmark their favourite news outlet (and you really should bookmark SASKTODAY.ca).
The average consumer of news is still relying on social media and it will be a break of habits to go back to opening up a web browser and clicking on a bookmark. In a way, we have been conditioned to expect things in a click of a button, or a swipe on our mobile phone, and are dependent on the apps available.
According to a recent report, 85 per cent of Canadians admit to not having a subscription to a Canadian news site, meaning most rely on social media or Google to access media content. In that same report, more than two in five Canadians stated they get their news exclusively through Facebook or Google.
There are better ways to build a partnership with Google, Meta and other social media platforms - to allow all Canadians the ease and access to their news. If only the federal government had taken steps to talk to the people in the business of journalism first, especially to companies who had made strong connections and relationships. The Online News Act could have been a piece of legislation that would satisfy journalists, social media platforms and the federal government.
In the meantime, support your local news outlet as much as you can. We are still doing the work as journalists that you have valued over the years.