A new Canadian law requiring Facebook to compensate news outlets for using their content has led the social media company to just block news article posts outright, which has unintended consequences as wildfires continue to rage in Canada.

You might recall in early June that New York City experienced “orange skies” from wildfire smoke, just as we did here in September 2020. That orange hue in New York was caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires, and those wildfires are still going, having taken five lives, and burned more than 37 million acres, or about 4% of all Canadian forest area.

The timing of the wildfires happens to correlate with the passage of a new law in Canada requiring tech companies to pay news publishers for the use or repurposing of their work. (Australian regulators pulled back on a similar law two years ago due to objections by Facebook.) Facebook responded by just flat-out blocking links to news content on the platform in Canada. Blocking news is perhaps not the best idea during a historic natural disaster, and the AP reports Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is slamming Facebook for not making any exception for wildfire news being posted by Canadian users.

“Right now, in an emergency situation where up to date local information is more important than ever, Facebook is putting corporate profits ahead of people’s safety,” Trudeau said at a Monday news conference. “It is so inconceivable that a company like Facebook is choosing to put corporate profits ahead of insuring that local news organizations can get up to date information to Canadians.”

For their part, Facebook parent company Meta said in a statement that even without news articles, Facebook was still a viable tool for people “to connect with their communities and access reputable information, including content from official government agencies, emergency services and non-governmental organizations.”

Alphabet-owned Google is also covered by the legislation, and also says they will remove news from their platform in Canada. (So, no Google News there?) But that policy simply hasn’t gone into effect yet. There are also reports that Elon Musk’s Twitter/X just decided to remove headlines and accompanying text from articles, displaying only the images, which seems like a boon for misinformation hucksters to post misleading content.

So some of the most visible Bay Area tech companies are noodling around with how news is presented on their platforms, or in certain markets at least. It seems there’s a sensible compromise where the tech companies could just comply by paying the news outlets during emergencies, or for the government to forgive the fees during declared emergencies.

But neither of those outcomes is likely in the immediate near term. And meanwhile, Canada keeps burning, and its residents’ Facebook timelines are all pet photos and retro TV show fan page posts.

Related: Facebook Releases Report On Which Posts They Remove and Censor, Turns Out Most Aren’t Political [SFist]

Image: Helicopter fighting BC forest fires during a hot sunny summer day. Taken near Port Alice, Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. (Getty Images)