The Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRB) formally requested Facebook and Twitter to delete a Toronto Sun article claiming it contained errors, according to documents acquired by The Canadian Press.

Facebook and Twitter denied the request, stating the article was not the government’s original content. 

Department staff pressured companies to take down the article believing it contained “serious errors of fact and a risk to undermining public confidence in the integrity of the refugee determination system.”

The documents reveal 214 instances of federal staff members asking companies to remove content on social media between January 2020 and February 2023. Nearly half of the requests were granted.

Among the granted requests to pull content from social media were those relating to private taxpayer information and impersonation of federal employees, including one claiming to be then RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

According to Toronto Sun columnist Lorne Gunter, who wrote the article in question, the IRB first asked Sun editors to take down the article before asking social media platforms.

“Thankfully, Facebook and Twitter told the federal government to pound sand,” writes Gunter. “My column continued to be shared despite being what the government considered dangerous “misinformation.”

The original Sun article from September 2021 revealed drafted plans to expand Canada’s refugee and immigration system to cut barriers for those wishing to enter the country and become citizens.

New proposed regulations included a more lenient review of refugees claiming gender or racial discrimination or being part of the LGBTQ community. 

Last month, the Liberal government struck down debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-11 to ram the legislation through Parliament. The third reading of Bill C-11 was completed on February 2, 2023 and is close to becoming law.