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Don’t let them block you out: Bill C-18, social media, and how it affects you

A notification has been popping up on Facebook users’ accounts warning that in response to Canadian legislation, news is no longer available to view or share on the social media platform. Others on Instagram have seen notifications stating content from news publications can’t be viewed in Canada. Google has said it will follow suit and block news links in Canada on its various platforms and search engines in response to Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act. As a result, quality community-based journalism will become less accessible online.

This is not good news

Google, Facebook, Twitter (now “X”), and other social media are digital platforms that distribute other people’s content. They don’t generate any content themselves; they let others use the platform to post content to which a lot of people are attracted. The viewing this content by many people allows the digital distribution platforms to sell advertising and generate huge profits.

As a result, advertising revenue for community media (newspapers, radio, television, and attached websites) has dropped significantly, even though a lot of the content presented on the digital platforms comes from these same community media.

C-18 requires that digital platforms such as Google and Meta provide community media with a fair portion of the advertising revenues that are generated from that quality community media content. So, the response from the digital platforms has been to threaten to block that content – a cynical manoeuvre that denies community media access to the promotional value of reaching online audiences.

Stand up to big tech

Considering the tactics taken by Meta and Google, those who appreciate quality locally produced journalism should stand up to big tech. Until the digital platforms agree to pay community media for their content, don’t let them block you out! Don’t pay for advertising from the digital platforms; access the quality content produced by community media directly, through their own websites and mobile apps; and send a message to your elected representatives to stand firm on C-18 and other measures to protect and enhance community media.

Don’t let the digital platforms bully their way to larger profits by unfairly exploiting the quality community media content of publications like The Gleaner. Instead of finding us on social media, please download our app, subscribe to the paper, sign up for news alerts and email notifications, and bookmark our website, www.the-gleaner.com.

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