Canada demands Meta lift ban on news to allow fires info to be shared

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A Canadian government minister on Friday demanded that Meta lift a ban on domestic news from its platforms to allow people to share information about wildfires in the west of the country.

Meta started blocking news on its Facebook and Instagram platforms for all users in Canada this month in response to a new law requiring internet giants to pay for news articles.

Some people fleeing wildfires in the remote northern town of Yellowknife have complained to domestic media that the ban prevented them from sharing important data about the fires.

“What Meta is doing now is completely unacceptable … we see that due to this ban, people do not have access to information that is absolutely crucial,” Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez told a briefing.

“I demand that Meta reverse this decision,” continued Rodriguez, who in his previous role as heritage minister oversaw the legislation requiring payment for articles.

Chris Bittle, a legislator for the ruling Liberal Party, complained on Thursday that “Meta’s actions to block news are reckless and irresponsible.”

In response, a Meta spokesperson said the company had activated the “Safety Check” feature on Facebook that allows users to spread the word that they are safe in the wake of a natural disaster or a crisis.