Toronto – The image of Mark Zuckerberg is plastered around Toronto and other major cities in Canada today on a WANTED poster that is the centrepiece of a provocative national advertising campaign launched this morning by the watchdog group FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.
“Without permission or compensation, Facebook profits by publishing content that does not belong to it. 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,” says FRIENDS’ Executive Director Daniel Bernhard.
Large Zuckerberg WANTED posters will be installed this week across the country in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax and Montreal. The Zuckerberg poster will be featured in a national print advertising buy. And, a website – newsthief.ca – where the poster can be downloaded will allow people to sign up to show Facebook Canadians won’t be pushed around.
“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. The COVID pandemic and the lethal blow it is delivering to their media is the reason Australia has moved quickly to bring Facebook to heel, not the excuse for inaction being offered up by Justin Trudeau,” Bernhard says.
Prime Minister Trudeau has said 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”.
Inaction on the part of the federal government has hastened the demise of professional journalism. Media companies which 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. More than 50 outlets have closed. Dozens more have made deep cuts.
“Mr. Trudeau can’t have it both ways. 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,” Bernhard says.
ABOUT FRIENDS: FRIENDS is the citizens' independent advocate for Canadian journalism, storytelling, and public broadcasting, and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.
For more information or to book an interview: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592