The result of the passing of Bill C-18 this week has prompted Meta to carry out its threat to block news media links on its platforms, Facebook and Instagram.

This is Meta’s full statement, updated on June 22:

Today, we are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) taking effect.

We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18, passed today in Parliament, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada.

Earlier this month, we announced that we were conducting product tests to help us build an effective product solution to end news availability as a result of C-18. These tests are ongoing and currently impact a small percentage of users in Canada.

The changes affecting news content will not otherwise impact Meta’s products and services in Canada. We want to assure the millions of Canadians on our platforms that they will always be able to connect with friends and family, grow their businesses and support their local communities.

We will continue to combat misinformation and have built the largest global fact-checking network of any platform by partnering with more than 90 independent fact-checking organisations around the world who review and rate viral misinformation in more than 60 languages globally. Fact-checking will continue with respect to content that remains available in Canada.

Pipeline Online provides the in-depth coverage on energy issues in this province that no other media comes close to. It does NOT receive federal journalism subsidies. Nor does it have any sort of revenue sharing deal with Facebook.

Say what you want about Facebook, but this is a huge issue. Social media is crucial to the business plans of all news media, Pipeline Online included. Glib comments about Facebook not mattering simply aren’t true. It matters to anyone who is in the business of trying to reach more people. Where else can you find 3 billion people to tick off?

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Facebook is so large, its user base is larger than all of China and India combined. Or put another way, Asia is the only individual continent on the planet with more people than Facebook has followers. It’s impossible to ignore. It’s not the 800 pound gorilla in the room, it’s the 80,000 ton Godzilla.

When I created a business Facebook page for Pipeline Online, I listed it as a news and media website. But there was something I did not do. I did not “register as a journalist.”

Doing so would have probably made my life a little easier, and perhaps resulted in more views. But a few years ago I listened to the audiobook of Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer. And it chillingly describes how, shortly after coming to power in 1933, journalists were required to register with the government. This was the “Editor’s Law.”

This is how the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum describes it:

The Editors Law (Schriftleitergesetz) forbids non-“Aryans” to work in journalism.

The German Propaganda Ministry (through its Reich Press Chamber) assumed control over the Reich Association of the German Press, the guild which regulated entry into the profession. Under the new Editors Law, the association kept registries of “racially pure” editors and journalists, and excluded Jews and those married to Jews from the profession. Propaganda Ministry officials expected editors and journalists, who had to register with the Reich Press Chamber to work in the field, to follow mandates and specific instructions handed down by the ministry. In paragraph 14 of the law, the regime required editors to omit from publication anything “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.”

And here’s how the National Post described the operation of Bill C-18:

Bill C-18 was modelled on Australia’s legislation. Under that system, Google and Facebook reached deals with publishers that kept the News Media Bargaining Code from kicking in, meaning neither has actually been designated as a digital platform subject to the code.

Canada’s legislation is premised on the same idea. Companies that have commercial deals in place will apply to the CRTC asking to be exempted from mandatory negotiation. If the deals meet the criteria set out by the government (such as whether they provide fair compensation), the CRTC will deem them exempt.

So is the CRTC the new Reich Press Chamber? I’m not joking here. Do I need to register my news operation with the CRTC for Facebook and Google to allow my stories to be shared on their platforms? Must I register with the federal government to be considered legitimate media, despite spending most of my life, and especially the last 20 years full-time as a journalist?

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Anyone who has read Pipeline Online would realize how critical this publication has been of current federal government policies. Would that be “weakening the strength of the Reich abroad or at home?”

The entire reason we have a free press, an extension of freedom of speech, is to allow criticism to root out faulty governance, and correct errors in our ways. To declare the emperor has no clothes.

I was corresponding with a Saskatchewan MP who was slated to speak on Bill C-18. But the day he was to speak, the Liberals cut off a Bloc MP mid-speech and adjourned debate, leaving him hanging. The following day, they limited debate, and he never did get to speak. If that doesn’t speak volumes on both the federal Liberal government and Meta, I don’t know what does.

Your freedom of speech, too

And it’s not just my speech being limited here, either. It’s yours.

By Facebook and possibly Google cutting news links, it means they are cutting off an entire body of discussion. What’s going on with the homeless people in front of Regina’s city hall? Sorry, I can’t send you that link to Wayne Mantyka’s story on CTV explaining it. So I guess we just won’t talk about it.

I will be attending federal Minister of Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s event with the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce in Regina on June 28. He will be talking about the “just transition,” which means to do away with the oil and gas sector, one of Saskatchewan’s most important industries. But you won’t be able to share any of my stories coming from that event on Facebook, or Instagram. I don’t even know if you can privately share it on Facebook Messenger. Likely not. So a federal minister might be speaking about the demise of your industry and livelihood, and you can’t share or even read those stories through Facebook. There’s a wee possibility that “just transitioning” your job out of existence might upset you. But that story will be verboten on Facebook. As will every other story.

That is, at least, until some news organizations get the formal blessing of the CRTC. I wonder, to get the CRTC bishop’s blessing, does it require one to be a  member of the Church of Anthropogenic Climate Change? And if not, are you banned from speaking/publishing/posting?

It doesn’t matter if it’s Meta/Facebook, Google or the government banning or blocking speech, posts or links. The net result is the same. Censorship.

This is how we get to George Orwell’s 1984. But the society in 1984 didn’t happen in a day. 1983, and ’82, ’81, ’80 and ’79 came before it. The passage of Bill C-18, and Facebook’s response, puts us squarely in 1979.

So what can you do? Call, email, write your member of parliament. Send smoke signals, if you have to. I will be. I have to.

This is a fight we cannot give up.

—-

With recent action from Facebook to block news links, it’s important to follow Pipeline Online in other manners. The easiest is to check each morning at PipelineOnline.ca, with the top story posted at 7 a.m. Monday to Friday, and additional coverage throughout the day and weekend. But you can also follow on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can follow editor Brian Zinchuk online at LinkedIn as well (you’ll see more stories that way). Finally, you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter.

 

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Here’s some stories the federal government might not want spread around. Do you think the CRTC would allow them?

The “just transition” report is nothing short of the utter transformation of Canada

Dissenting report from Conservatives wants to expand oil and gas, not transition it away

19 Recommendations for a “Just Transition,” as presented by the federal Natural Resources Committee

On longest day of the year, Saskatchewan’s grid-scale solar produced 8 megawatts out of 30

On second longest day of the year, clouds reduce Alberta solar generation by half at noon

Jim Warren: Freezing in the Dark, 2023 Version. How many Canadians do Justin Trudeau and Steven Guilbeault anticipate the “just transition” will kill?

Brian Zinchuk: Facebook has commenced strangling Canadian news media and Danielle Smith. This is censorship, the destruction of the entire concept of a free press

Alberta’s wind power generation again drops below 1% capacity

Brian Zinchuk: Only sheer and utter incompetence at the top could result in Alberta again issuing electrical grid alerts

Quick Dick McDick: Toonie: Guilbeault, GET BENT

Quick Dick McDick: Trudeau’s Federal Carbon Tax