THE Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) on Monday joined the calls for Meta to reinstate news on its social media platforms and cease using innocent lives as a corporate strategy to evade regulation, and called on Canada to amend Bill C-18 to ensure that news stifling cannot happen by mega corporations.
The UBCIC pointed out that record-setting wildfires have swept across BC and Canada this year, and Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, has decided to block its users in Canada from receiving pivotal news and access to essential resources in protest of Bill C-18, which has yet to come into effect. The new Bill requires media companies, like Meta and Google, to compensate Canadian news media for publishing stories on their platforms. Corporations and the Canadian government have already been protesting Meta’s decision to block news media on its platforms by pulling advertising, but government actions must go further to protect lives.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, said: “While corporations and governments are busy playing politics, real peoples’ lives are being affected on the ground, adding more chaos to an already dangerous and traumatizing situation. Social media has become a community organizing tool that has a relied-upon, easy infrastructure for sharing news. We don’t know the long-lasting effect yet, but we already know that not being able to share news has communities disoriented and puts lives at risk. Government emergency websites and text notification warnings just don’t have the same reach and up to date information as social media does.”
Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice President, said: “If the current legislation proceeds as-is, the same thing will happen the next time there is an emergency of provincial or national scale, and it will be Meta’s sole responsibility. If the Bill intends to sever the link between a key community organizing tool and Canadian news, it should create new mechanisms for propagating critical information and Canadian news. The government has a responsibility to inform as many people affected by national and provincial emergencies as they can, and there is no government tool that effectively does so.”
Chief Marilyn Slett, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer, said: “Being from a remote community, I know that our rural communities rely on social media for real-time communication during emergency situations. The government primarily uses remote technology to determine weather conditions in our community; there is no one here on the ground. We are our own messengers, and Facebook is a pivotal tool for getting urgent messages out.”