Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior figures in his government — including Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould — and several of his principal political operatives have been hounding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with appeals to censor a newspaper this week.
The Trudeau government repeatedly demanded that Zuckerberg remove The Buffalo Chronicle’s coverage of the Canadian federal elections from his social media platform. The Buffalo Chronicle is a New York-based newspaper owned by a Haudenosaunee businessman who is indigenous to both sides of the border and extensively covers indigenous politics in the United States and Canada.
Zuckerberg refused to remove The Chronicle’s content from his social media platform — but he has imposed technological restrictions on The Chronicle’s use of his platform.
In effect, Facebook is systematically discriminating against this publication — presumably for its center-right political views — by restricting our page’s functionality and access to tools that left-leaning publications enjoy with impunity.
These restrictions on The Chronicle’s Facebook functionality significantly reduce the organic reach of our content, make it more difficult for our audience to grow, and mitigate our ability to distribute content relative to other publications — who have more left-leaning political views.
When Trudeau officials pressured Facebook earlier this year to restrict the distribution of American news content in Canada, Facebook succumbed to the pressure. Zuckerberg has banned The Buffalo Chronicle from utilizing for-pay content distribution tools for political news journalism related to Canada’s federal or indigenous politics.
Both The New York Times and The Washington Post are still able to distribute such content into the Canadian marketplace utilizing those tools.
The Chronicle is considering a lawsuit.
In recent months, Trudeau has been furious that The Chronicle has published a series of jawdropping articles on his government. That series has called attention to the pervasive anti-Conservative and pro-Liberal media bias that exists in Canada, where the media industry is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Trudeau has expanded annual funding and subsidy programs for ‘news journalism’ to more than $1.6 billion annually.
The Chronicle has never been sued for defamation in our operating history. The publication has never received a cease-and-desist letter, from Mr. Trudeau or anyone else. We stand by our reporting and are confident in our sources. That’s particularly true as it relates to our coverage of Canadian politics this year.