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Opinion: We're not going anywhere, even if we're not on Facebook

People are losing their access to news, but you can do something about it.
David Willberg
Willberg's World with David Willberg

I came home Monday afternoon after covering another great edition of the TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course's FrameTech Classic, and started working on a couple of online articles.

I quickly checked the Mercury's Facebook page and saw a message "No posts to show" where normally our Facebook posts would appear.

On my personal Facebook account, where Mercury news articles would appear, the message is "This content isn't available in Canada". Click on it, and you'll get taken to a Facebook link that shows all sorts of propaganda on why the article can't be viewed any longer. 

Once I saw the "no posts to show" message, I knew what it meant. Facebook had randomly selected me to be among those who can't view news from Canadian sources. There were others who could still view our articles; the amount of activity on the Mercury's Facebook page for the FrameTech Classic and the many events in Midale on the weekend served as evidence.

I'm not the first to lose access to Canadian news content. I won't be the last. I can still view sports articles from TSN and Sportsnet, but not news. Whether it's a small-town outlet like the Carlyle Observer, or a big-city publication like Vancouver is Awesome, or our provincial news hub,, there are no posts to show.

And barring some form of a last-second agreement, at some point soon, we'll all be in the same boat. If you want to find news through Meta's Facebook or Instagram platforms, or if you want to find news on Google, you'll be out of luck. 

These platforms have reacted negatively to the federal government's Online News Act, which forces tech companies to pay news outlets for their content that appears on their platforms. Rather than comply or negotiate, these big U.S. companies have decided to turn out the lights on Canadian news providers.

Here at the Mercury, we've long taken pride in our social media presence through Facebook. We have approximately 9,000 likes and nearly 9,300 followers – impressive numbers for a market of this size.

What troubles me about losing Facebook is the public safety factor. If there's a missing person, an increased police presence, a highway closure or a storm, then we often stop what we're doing, post it online and reach people immediately. Now that missing person report won't get to as many people as quickly.

Yes, it's great we've been able to share event articles and photo albums, sometimes while the event is happening. But the most important thing that we can post and share is a missing person report.

The loss of legitimate Canadian news is also going to favour the false news sites that prey upon those who will believe anything that fits their worldview.

So what can you do? I'd like to say cancel your Facebook and Instagram accounts, but that probably won't happen. Use a different search engine? Google is so synonymous with searches that it's become a verb almost as much as a proper noun.

You'll still be able to find our stories on X (formerly known as Twitter), but we recognize that it has become a diminishing return in the social media world, and its decline has been accelerated ever since Elon Musk became its owner.

It means visiting will be more important than ever. Bookmarking it is a good idea. Check back a few times a day. And subscribe to our newsletters. SaskToday's goes out five times a week. The Mercury has one, too, with a local emphasis.

You're still going to find the high-quality content that you're used to. It's still going to be updated repeatedly. Just because we don't have Facebook prompting you to go there doesn't mean we're not there any longer.

The news existed before Facebook. Online news existed before Google. This will serve as a reminder of how over-dependent we are on certain platforms.

But we're not going anywhere, even if it's not as simple to find us as it used to be.

Don't count on social media to deliver your local news to you. Keep Estevan news a touch away by bookmarking the Estevan Mercury homepage at this link.

Here's why you should bookmark your favourites.

Bookmark, Saskatchewan's home page, at this link.