Police services across Canada are grappling with how they will relay emergency information, including breaking news and details of missing persons, once Meta begins permanently removing news from its social media platforms.
Meta is set to remove all news for Canadian users in response to the Liberal government’s Online News Act, which requires some tech giants to pay for news content shared or repurposed on their platforms.
When that happens, police forces won’t be able to count on links from local news outlets popping up in people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds as they scroll, though they will still be able to post their own news releases and other messages.
The Saskatchewan RCMP said Meta’s decision will affect the way they get information to the public and they are currently working through ways they can maximize the distribution of public safety messages.
In Manitoba, the RCMP said they will rely heavily on their own social media accounts to get important information out to the public.
“At the detachment level, in rural Manitoba, our social media has good reach and is immediate and we continue to rely on that for our messaging,” said Tara Seel, a spokeswoman for the Manitoba RCMP.
A spokesperson for the RCMP’s national headquarters said Mounties will also rely on alert systems, news releases and press conferences, while continuing to review new social media platforms that could help with communication.
But it is not entirely clear how Meta’s news ban will affect the way police communicate. Kelly Dehn, director of public affairs for the Winnipeg Police Service, put it bluntly: “We’re not sure what impact it will have.”