Deliver first, announce second

3 min readApr 7, 2024

On Meta, Information Sharing Behaviours, and times of emergency

The Facebook news ban continues in Canada. Since June, 2023, Meta’s user base cannot post or share news content on its platforms. In the midst of an ongoing legal dispute, impacts on Canadian news agencies take the fore. As provinces and territories prepare for another fire season, designing with a news ban in mind means recognizing the need for government to deliver first and announce second, as a way to share information with the public more quickly.

Governments have a role to play in providing the public with factual, up to date, shareable information. On the back of research conducted on wildfire response in the Northwest Territories, the extent to which governments are changing information sharing behaviours, to design content for the public, so that it can be shared on Facebook and Instagram, comes into question.

In many Canadian jurisdictions, we’ve seen a default to news conferences and news releases as tried and true methods of releasing information from government, to the public.

Announce first, deliver second has tended to come with time lags between when the public is alerted to a new service offering and when it is available.

Particularly in emergency situations, this dynamic proves problematic. Not only because of the delivery lag, but also because content produced by news outlets cannot be shared.

During last year’s wildfire season in the Northwest Territories, internet users were forced, overnight, to change their information seeking and sharing behaviours. Facebook was no longer a steady stream of news content. But the user base, and their information sharing patterns, remained. It was not uncommon for members of the public to screenshot government announcements — provided in news updates — and repost them to the platform, as workarounds.

Deliver first, announce second would represent a behavioural change for governments. It would also require them to regularly produce and deliver shareable content and service updates, designed in reference to the public’s information sharing behaviours and needs.

Particularly in emergency situations, the production of government web content needs to occur prior to, or be timed with, news conferences. This might include website updates on emergency situations, instructions on how to receive support, and day-to-day informational sharing on the work of government and services that matter to the public.

Linking to government content during news conferences and announcements could enable the retention of a voice over from government, and scrutiny from the media, in news conferences, without shortchanging the public, who might need to locate government information and services quickly.

When government delivers first, and announces second, it enables the public to share necessary information with one another, independent of news agency links and commentary.

The behavioural change — of delivering first and announcing second — is particularly important to the provision of service updates. When those updates are made in reference to the delivery of a new program or service, it’s the government website and not the news link, that the public needs most urgently.

How are governments adapting their information sharing behaviours in the midst of a news ban? Are they making best use of their websites? What changes have you seen since the ban went into effect?




Laura Nelson-Hamilton. Frameworks, essays, photos. A space to wander and connect.