OTTAWA — Digital giant Meta says it has “serious concerns” about the federal government’s online news bill, which would force tech companies to compensate news outlets for reusing their work on social media platforms.
Rachel Curran of Meta Canada told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that the company, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is going through the proposed law in detail and looking at options for a future response.
She said Meta was “not consulted” on its content, an assertion sharply disputed by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s spokeswoman, who accused Curran of making a “false claim.”
Canada’s bill to support the news industry is modelled on a law in Australia, where Facebook introduced a temporary ban on viewing and sharing news on its site last year in protest of the draft legislation.
At the House of Commons committee on public safety, Conservative MP Raquel Dancho asked Curran if a similar ban in Canada was off the table for Facebook.
“We are still looking at all of the options based on our evaluation of the legislation,” Curran replied.
The Meta public-policy head added she could not “comment definitively on our future action with respect to the bill specifically, since we are still evaluating it.”
“I will say we do have some pretty serious concerns,” she said.
She said the tech giant was unaware of the “scope” of the legislation until it was tabled.
Laura Scaffidi, the heritage minister’s spokeswoman, said it was not true that Rodriguez had not consulted Meta about the bill.
“The minister met Facebook on Feb. 10, and officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage met Ms. Curran multiple times since last fall’s election. Facebook chose not to participate in the consultation last year.”
Scaffidi said Rodriguez “is open to constructive dialogue with tech giants,” adding that Facebook was not given the chance to read the legislation before members of the House of Commons.
“Since the bill was introduced, we have not heard from Facebook — until Ms. Curran’s false claim today,” she said.
Canada’s law, which is different in some respects from the Australian model, will set up a process for digital platforms to privately negotiate deals with newspapers, magazines and online news groups, as well as broadcasters that publish news online.
It will permit news organizations to team up to bargain collectively with digital companies for compensation.
If they cannot reach a deal within six months, tech platforms will be forced into mediation with news outlets and, if that doesn’t work, then binding arbitration. Rodriguez has said arbitration would be “a last resort.”
Digital platforms that fail to comply with the new law could face penalties of up to $15 million per day for repeated non-compliance, government officials said.
However, Curran said publishers placing links on Meta’s platforms “receive significant value” from doing so.
She said Meta was already committed to innovative solutions to ensure “the sustainability of the news industry in Canada” and had programs supporting Canadian journalism.
Michele Austin, director of public policy at Twitter, told MPs the social media platform was also analyzing the bill.
Austin said because Twitter is a closed platform, users clicking on news links have to leave the site to read them.
She told MPs Twitter is not sure if it would be “scoped in under the bill.” She said the company does not make a lot of money from news.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2022.
Meta funds a fellowship that supports journalism positions at The Canadian Press.
Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press
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Why social media makes you feel bad
Have you ever found yourself scrolling through social media and noticed you felt a bit down? Maybe a little envious? Why aren’t you on a yacht? Running a startup? Looking amazing 24/7?
The good news is you are not alone. Although social media has some benefits, it can also make us feel a little depressed.
Why does social media make us feel bad?
As humans we inherently compare ourselves to others to determine our self-worth. Psychologists call this social comparison theory.
We primarily make two types of comparisons: upward and downward comparisons.
Upward comparisons occur when we compare ourselves to someone else (in real life or on social media) and feel they are better than us (an unfavourable comparison for us) in whatever domain we are assessing (such as status, beauty, abilities, success, and so on).
For example, comparing your day at work to your friend’s post from the ski fields (we’re looking at you Dave!) is likely to be an upward comparison. Another example is making appearance comparisons which can make you feel worse about yourself or your looks .
Although upward comparison can sometimes motivate you to do better, this depends on the change being achievable and on your esteem. Research suggests upward comparisons may be particularly damaging if you have low self-esteem.
In contrast, downward comparisons occur when we view ourselves more favourably than the other person – for example, by comparing yourself to someone less fortunate. Downward comparisons make us feel better about ourselves but are rare in social media because people don’t tend to post about the mundane realities of life.
Comparisons in social media
Social media showcases the best of people’s lives. It presents a carefully curated version of reality and presents it as fact. Sometimes, as with influencers, this is intentional but often it is unconscious bias. We are just naturally more likely to post when we are happy, on holiday or to share successes – and even then we choose the best version to share.
When we compare ourselves to what we see on social media, we typically make upward comparisons which make us feel worse. We compare ourselves on an average day to others on their best day. In fact, it’s not even their best day. It’s often a perfectly curated, photoshopped, produced, filter-applied moment. It’s not a fair comparison.
That’s not to say social media is all bad. It can help people feel supported, connected, and get information. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, keep your social media use in check with these tips.
Concrete ways you can make yourself feel better about social media
Monitor your reactions. If social media is enjoyable, you may not need to change anything – but if it’s making you exhausted, depressed or anxious, or you are losing time to mindless scrolling, it’s time for change.
Avoid comparisons. Remind yourself that comparing your reality with a selected moment on social media is an unrealistic benchmark. This is especially the case with high-profile accounts who are paid to create perfect content.
Be selective. If you must compare, search for downward comparisons (with those who are worse off) or more equal comparisons to help you feel better. This might include unfollowing celebrities, focusing on real posts by friends, or using reality focused platforms like BeReal.
Redefine success. Influencers and celebrities make luxury seem like the norm. Most people don’t live in pristine homes and sip barista-made coffee in white sheets looking perfect. Consider what real success means to you and measure yourself against that instead.
Practise gratitude. Remind yourself of things that are great in your life, and celebrate your accomplishments (big and small!). Create a “happy me” folder of your favourite life moments, pics with friends, and great pictures of yourself, and look at this if you find yourself falling into the comparison trap.
Unplug. If needed, take a break, or cut down. Avoid mindless scrolling by moving tempting apps to the last page of your phone or use in-built focus features on your device. Alternatively, use an app to temporarily block yourself from social media.
Engage in real life. Sometimes social media makes people notice what is missing in their own lives, which can encourage growth. Get out with friends, start a new hobby, embrace life away from the screen.
Get amongst nature. Nature has health and mood benefits that combat screen time.
Be the change. Avoid only sharing the picture-perfect version of your life and share (in a safe setting) your real life. You’d be surprised how this will resonate with others. This will help you and them feel better.
Seek help. If you are feeling depressed or anxious over a period of time, get support. Talk to your friends, family or a GP about how you are feeling. Alternatively contact one of the support lines like Lifeline, Kids Helpline, or 13Yarn.
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