The image of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be posted in various locations around Toronto and other major cities in Canada beginning today, printed on a large-format “WANTED” poster that’s the centrepiece of a provocative national advertising campaign launched by the watchdog group, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. The group is the only national grassroots organization that defends Canadian journalism, storytelling and public broadcasting, and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or any political party.
“Without permission or compensation, Facebook profits by publishing content that does not belong to it,” said Friends’ Executive Director Daniel Bernhard. “There is a word for that; it’s called theft. This campaign is about mobilizing public and political support to put a stop to this illegal behaviour,” said Friends’ Executive Director Daniel Bernhard.
The large Zuckerberg posters will be installed this week in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax and Montreal, and will be also featured in a national print advertising campaign. In addition, a new website, www.newsthief.ca, has been created where the poster can be downloaded and where Canadians can sign up to show Facebook that “Canadians won’t be pushed around,” the group said.
“Just last month, Australia became the latest country to require Facebook to pay news organizations for content, recognizing the broad positive effects of journalism for society as a whole,” Bernhard added. “The COVID pandemic and the lethal blow it’s delivering to their media is the reason Australia moved quickly to bring Facebook to heel – not the excuse for inaction being offered up by Justin Trudeau.” The Canadian Prime Minister previously said that he understands the importance of our media, yet he has also declared that bringing Facebook and other giant online media companies in line with the rule of law is “not a priority right now.”
The group went on to emphasize that inaction on the part of the federal government has hastened the demise of professional journalism. Media companies that finance journalism have been in steady decline for the past several years, a downward trend that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 2,000 Canadian media jobs have been lost since mid-March of this year, over 50 news outlets have closed, and dozens more have been forced to make deep staff cuts. “Mr. Trudeau can’t have it both ways,” Bernhard insisted. “Facebook behaves like an outlaw because our government lets Zuckerberg write his own rules. They pay no taxes in Canada, suffer no consequences for publishing illegal content, and make billions here selling ads against content produced by others – without compensation! They won’t stop breaking the law until our government forces them to. This is a campaign to make Facebook follow the rule of law.”
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