(LifeSiteNews) — One summary of the tenure of Canada’s progressive-feminist, euthanasia loving Liberal government is that it gives Hanlon’s razor – the supposition that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity – a real run for its money.
Recent months have seen several embarrassments, reversals and unforced errors take their toll on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government; the intention to ban what it called “assault-style” weapons seems to have claimed the career of one cabinet minister, and the bungled negotiations with the largest of Canada’s public sector unions blew up into one of the biggest strikes in Canadian history, a debacle which most likely contributed to an end to the tenure of the president of the Treasury board.
These recent errors beg the question, “was it all intentional, or were they just incompetent?”And can the same be said for Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram – and more worryingly Alphabet – the parent company of Google – whose intention is to ban Canadians from accessing news content on their massive platforms?
Dispensing with the Trudeau government’s stated intentions, the Online News Act, formerly known as Bill C-18, is an ongoing attempt to force what the government calls “big tech giants” – really just Alphabet and Meta – to prop-up newsrooms by negotiating, and if that doesn’t work imposing, a pay-per-click scheme where the platforms be compelled to pay whom the government designates and defines as “news” for the privilege of providing a link to that same news content.
In other words, if a user links to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on Facebook, Facebook should be paying the CBC for every person who clicks on that link. Presumably because Facebook was somehow siphoning advertising dollars away from the CBC and now has a moral obligation to start paying its “fair share.”
In response, both Meta and Alphabet either threatened or warned that they would ban Canadians from posting or viewing news content on their respective platforms. On these statements, Meta – the proverbial “smaller giant” in this drama – has recently made good; as of August 1, it began preventing its Canadian users from viewing all news content, both domestic and, to use the parlance of the government, “global” – which really just means foreign.
It was a popular misconception in Canada that Meta would only block domestic news channels like the CBC, and Bell-media owned CTV News. However, because the Online News Act doesn’t distinguish between Canadian news media and “global news media,” all Canadians have been, or will be, blocked from viewing or interacting with any news media on Meta’s platforms.
That includes large outlets like CNN, Fox News, and even the venerable BBC, but also smaller outlets such as LifeSiteNews.
As several days of testing by this writer have shown, it’s not clear exactly how Meta is identifying Canadians, except that this writer has been able to determine that attempting to use a virtual private network (VPN), often marketed as a solution for circumventing and accessing location-restricted content, may not be enough. News content, and sometimes even entire webpages remain blocked, whether this writer’s IP address shows as being a user located in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, or Mexico.
It should be noted that malicious compliance is still technically compliance and as such, the results of Meta’s particular implementation of malicious compliance with the Online News Act have been most-strongly felt in the very organizations which the law was intended to assist; in response to Meta’s actions, Canadian news media companies have appealed to the Competition Bureau petulantly demanding an investigation into Meta’s actions as an anti-competitive practice.
Ironically, reading the media’s complaint reveals the truth; that the true desires of Canadian news media were driven by little more than avarice, envy, and a desire to obtain some of Meta’s and Alphabet’s revenue for themselves, while simultaneously proving themselves as utterly incapable of innovation.
If Meta providing a platform where users can link news content was heretofore harming Canadian news media through loss of advertising dollars – the premise for the Online News Act – then removing those same links should eliminate the harm and restore the revenue previously enjoyed by Canadian news media.
But instead, their appeal alleges that “…Meta has chosen to actively inflict harm to news organizations, threatening the viability and sustainability of the industry in Canada.” The Canadian media is clearly desiring to have both interpretations be true, when the reality is that news media has mostly been the beneficiary of increased traffic – and the associated advertising revenue – thanks to the links posted by individual users to Facebook and Instagram, and it is the loss of that traffic which is harmful, not the existence of that traffic in the first place.
Canadian news media’s desired remedy is equally absurd; they desire that the Competition Bureau force Meta to unblock Canadians from seeing news content. This writer doubts that this ultra-nationalist media conglomerate is at all interested in Meta being forced to unblock say, the BBC.
However, Meta is just one issue. The more ominous one, the proverbial sleeping giant, is Alphabet.
For its part, Alphabet has manifested its intent to remove news media (whether that will be restricted to domestic news, or include foreign news ala Meta is presently unclear) from Canadians’ search results. Where traffic provided by Meta was, according to Canadian research chair in internet and eCommerce law Michael Geist, estimated at 30 percent, Google searches represent a significantly larger share of traffic; if Google blocks Canadians from accessing Canadian news media content, the drop in traffic is estimated at up to 70 percent.
For all the government’s bluster about standing up to Big Tech companies and their lofty fantasy about forcing them to pay their “fair share,” it seems that the Online News Act isn’t about to save Canadian news media, but end it entirely instead.
As though the signaled intent to ban Canadian media on Facebook and Google isn’t irksome enough there is another, albeit terribly conspiratorial alternative: what if the Online News Act, in drastic contrast to its stated motive, is functioning exactly as intended?
As established Canadian news media outlets have found themselves heavily reliant on subsidy and bailouts by the Trudeau government, what if the Online News Act didn’t backfire, but was actually crafted with the intention of forcing Canadian news media to rely even more on the Trudeau government’s good graces for their continued existence?
What if the intention was always to continue and accelerate the transformation of Canadian journalism into Canada’s version of North Korean propaganda? Proponents of Hanlon’s razor could be left reeling, as there was plenty of warning that the media’s desired shakedown would backfire exactly as it has
Is it incompetence or is it intentional? Perhaps the more interesting question is, does it really make a difference? For the ordinary Canadian, it’s most likely to be a distinction without a difference, except to serve as another plentiful indicator that this Orwellian government has persisted for far too long.