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EDITORIAL: Facebook can censor our stories, but not our passion for local journalism

The fallout from Bill C-18 has just begun. No matter what happens, SooToday will keep doing what we do best: covering the stories that matter most in your community
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Village Media headquarters.

The blackout has officially begun.

Meta, the internet giant that owns Facebook and Instagram, is doing exactly what it promised: blocking news content from the eyes of all Canadian users. If SooToday hasn’t disappeared from your social media feeds just yet, it will at any moment.

Instead of our trusted local journalism, users will encounter this brief message if they visit SooToday on Facebook or Instagram: “People in Canada can’t see this content. In response to Canadian government legislation, news content can’t be viewed in Canada.”

That legislation, of course, is Bill C-18, a Liberal government law designed to force Big Tech (ie. Meta and Google) to compensate media outlets for “stealing” our content and selling lucrative ads all around it. To be clear, Village Media (which operates SooToday) has never supported this deeply flawed bill — nor the prevailing wisdom behind it.

Born digital, our growing roster of local news websites has thrived in the era of Facebook and Google, leveraging the massive reach of these platforms to help deliver the high-quality community journalism you’ve come to depend on. Does Meta “steal” our content? Absolutely not. The truth is we happily post it there, knowing full well that every click of a Facebook link leads right back to SooToday.

Not anymore. Rather than pay up, Meta is wiping away any trace of legitimate news from the feeds of Canadian users. No more links to SooToday headlines. No more sharing articles. And nobody — not the Trudeau government, and not the media outlets that lobbied hard for C-18 — can pretend to be surprised. Facebook gave us all plenty of advanced warning.

Truth be told, Village Media has seen this day coming for quite awhile. Although you may not have noticed, the amount of journalism appearing in your Facebook feed has slowly dwindled in recent years, so much so that we’ve been busy working on our own in-house version of a social media platform. It’s exciting stuff, but more on that later.

In the meantime, let me be absolutely clear on one thing: SooToday is not going anywhere. Facebook or no Facebook, we are as committed as ever to being your hometown source for up-to-the minute news and information, free of charge and accessible to all.

What can you do as a loyal reader? Here is what I tell anyone who asks.

• Visit us often. Heck, make us your homepage: To borrow a quote from Dave Dawson, one of our veteran Village editors: “I like to think of our site as the virtual water cooler of our time — a place where you come every day, often many times a day, to check the pulse of the community.”

• If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our free email newsletter. It arrives in your inbox every afternoon at 3 p.m., full of hyperlocal headlines you won’t find anywhere else. 

• Do you believe in the critical importance of community journalism (and can spare a few dollars a month)? Please consider pledging your support for SooToday. Every last dime goes toward bolstering local news coverage.

Although I’ve said it again and again, I will say it one more time: Local journalism has the rare power to strengthen and connect a community like nothing else can. Day after day, story after story, our reporters scour for the truth, hold decision-makers to account, introduce you to fascinating neighbours, and challenge your assumptions. Our primary mission is to shine a spotlight on everything the public deserves to know — good, bad and ugly. 

Nothing can block that purpose and passion. Not Facebook, and definitely not a disastrous piece of federal legislation. On we go.

Michael Friscolanti is Editor-in-Chief of Village Media

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Michael Friscolanti

About the Author: Michael Friscolanti

Michael Friscolanti is Editor-In-Chief of Village Media, which owns and operates 19 local news websites across Ontario, including this one
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