Meta Under Fire: Trudeau Criticizes Platform Amid Wildfires in Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a critical stance against social media giant Facebook, accusing it of "putting corporate profits ahead of people's safety".

by Faruk Imamovic
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Meta Under Fire: Trudeau Criticizes Platform Amid Wildfires in Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a critical stance against social media giant Facebook, accusing it of "putting corporate profits ahead of people's safety". His comments come as Facebook continues to block access to news content amidst ongoing wildfires that are ravaging parts of Canada's Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

A Nation in Crisis

The scale of the disaster is immense. As of this weekend, evacuation orders have been issued for approximately 60,000 residents in the affected regions, according to the latest figures released by Canadian authorities.

During a news conference on Monday, Trudeau termed the widespread devastation caused by the wildfires as "apocalyptic". Despite the catastrophic situation, he took a moment to appreciate and commend the Canadian populace for their unified response in aiding the evacuees.

“It is so inconceivable that a company like Facebook is choosing to put corporate profits ahead of ensuring that local news organizations can get up-to-date information to Canadians, and reach them where Canadians spend a lot of their time; online, on social media, on Facebook,” a visibly agitated Trudeau remarked.

Meta Responds

Meta, Facebook's parent company, has been swift in its response to the criticism. A spokesperson, in a statement to CNN on Monday, highlighted that a significant number of Canadians "continue to use our technologies in large numbers to connect with their communities and access reputable information".

This includes content from official government bodies, emergency services, and NGOs. In defense of blocking news access, the spokesperson mentioned that the new Canadian legislation compelled them to do so. They stated, "The new legislation in Canada forces us to end access to news content in order to comply with the legislation but we remain focused on making our technologies available." As an indicator of the platform's utility during these trying times, the spokesperson pointed to Meta's Safety Check tool.

This tool has been used by over 45,000 individuals since Friday to indicate their safety status. Furthermore, the Meta representative also highlighted the significant traffic on the Yellowknife and Kelowna Crisis Response pages on Facebook, with over 300,000 visitors.

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