Facebook threats: Ottawa pinning its hope on the public

Threats from Facebook: Ottawa is pinning its hopes on the public

MISE À DAY

Faced with Facebook's threats to block Canadian news in the country, Ottawa is pinning its hopes on a possible public outcry, failing to have a clear plan to fight back effectively against the tech giant.  

Last Friday, senior corporate officials did not rule out blocking Canadian journalistic content if the government passes the Online News Act, which aims to redistribute the profits collected by the web giants at the expense of the media.

Asked to comment on whether the company's threats are credible, Liberal Chris Bittle, a member of the Heritage Committee, said Facebook would “shoot itself in the foot” if it followed through on its threat.

But there is no way to predict the actions of the megacorporation.

The Liberals rely heavily on the example of Australia in their approach, and the hon. several times during his speech at the press scrum on Tuesday afternoon.

The company had drawn public outrage after blocking access to Australian news on its platform for more than a week.

“I expect Canadians to do the same to say that's completely unacceptable,” he said.

Blocking Canadian news would be “shooting itself in the foot” for Facebook, he believes, because it would only leave audiences with poor quality content and would scare away serious sponsors.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather said he was “so disappointed” at the committee meeting of the executives of Meta, Facebook's parent company, because they did not answer his questions clearly, according to him.

Recall that the founding boss of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, received an invitation to appear at the committee and answer questions from elected officials. It went unheeded.

“Facebook clearly has no respect for the Canadian Parliament and answering questions put to it,” he said.